Umustgo U

by Carol Iannone

The new Tom Hanks–Julia Roberts movie, Larry Crowne, promotes the college-as-necessity idea. Hanks as Larry is dismissed from his job because he lacks higher education. ”You’re forever retarded, because you didn’t go to college,” his superior tells him, according to a review. And he worked at something called UMart, which sounds like Walmart, a place where you would think you could advance without college.  He enrolls in a local community college and takes suitably irrelevant courses such as Speech 217: The Art of Informal Remarks, taught by Roberts as a Ms. Tainot. It sounds as if the film gets the paradox, if inadvertently — the necessity or seeming necessity of the college credential, combined with the insubstantiality of the education itself.