Tom Hanks has directed a bland, lifeless, sexless and entirely fatuous autumn-years romcom – co-writing it with Nia Vardalos, whose box-office smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding he and his wife Rita Wilson shrewdly brought to the screen as producers in 2002. Hanks himself plays a straight-ahead nice guy who is downsized from his job in a big store; he takes an adult education course at the community college and finds himself falling for jaded lecturer Mercedes Tainot, a stunningly bad performance from Julia Roberts, which she phones in while apparently working out her fee on a special Star Remuneration app. But before they come anywhere near getting together, the script provides for a long and massively boring subplot in which Larry appears to flirt with a free-spirited babe of a fellow student called Talia, played by 28-year-old British-born Gugu Mbatha-Raw. This is naturally to reassure us what a super-hot alpha-male our middle-aged hero still is. But Roberts and Hanks have zero chemistry. A love story starring Edward Heath and Julie Andrews would have had more chemistry than this, and the realities of love and sex are utterly absent. We know Mercedes's husband is bad because he loafs around at home, looking at internet porn, did I say porn? This turns out to be bikini models. Roberts's own awfulness comes to a head when she pre-emptively harangues her class about caring and challengingly tells them to "Get out!" Now, this could be a homage to the episode of Ricky Gervais's The Office, in which David Brent, giving his talk on aspirational management, tells his students to "Get out!" Or perhaps Hanks and Vardalos are just ripping it off. For Tom Hanks fans, and everyone else, this is one to miss.
Peter Bradshaw is the Guardian's film critic