A Hologram for the King (2016)
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It's hard to believe this movie would have been made if they didn't have Tom Hanks. He drags this through the dessert on his shoulders. There's an awkward series of scenes at a party and plenty of redundant scenes about the daily grind of doing business in Saudi Arabia while waiting for the King.
The back story of the karma of Hanks selling out Schwinn bikes to China comes back to haunt him. The love story feels forced and it seemed as Rita Wilson had approval of the female lead.
The good news is this movie is short. It is also very forgettable. No need to track it down on it's limited run, as it will be a bit more enjoyable for a quiet evening at home.
Tom Hanks is a troubled man sent to KSA to sell something on behalf of a big American Corporate. And there he clashes with Arabic Culture in his usual thoughtful and suspended-judgment way.
I won't tell you what happens, of course, but after a quick look to the other reviews (someone even claims to have fallen asleep) I understood that not everyone have liked it. And I'm surprised but I won't comment.
I would just say, for those who could possibly share my feelings, that this was a good film: interesting, clever and not slow at all. Just, maybe, a little different. Images are great and the story depicts nicely our difficult times. Besides: is there a such thing as a bad Tom Hanks' film?
Let me be real clear here. I worked for a year in SA (and my oldest son was actually born there which is another story and a half in itself) and this "romance" would NEVER happen. These folks have known each other for like 2 weeks (timeline is non-existent in this movie) and she goes topless swimming with him? But what is really unbelievable here is that a married Saudi woman (or any Saudi woman) would be alone with him in the first place (forget the driver, they would be Korean, Pakistani, Chinese, etc., i.e, non-persons as far as the Saudis are concerned). She would be completely compromised no matter how innocent she was! I understand she is getting a divorce from her husband but here she is sill married. What would happen in SA if her husband found out about this behavior is very simple - he had the right and he probably would kill her as a matter of honor or, at a minimum, beat her into a coma, and he would never, ever be charged or prosecuted. And even if Hank's character didn't know this, she would, and would never put the two of them in such a dangerously compromising situation.
Save yourself the misery and give this clunker a wide berth.
Aside from the exaggerations and lies, there was no plot. I couldn't tell what the purpose of the movie was
Also, the Arabic language spoken wasn't even close to the Saudi accent! And mentioning things like it's rare to have Saudi female doctors, seriously?!!!!
It was a waste of time watching a poorly researched and written movie.
Tom Hanks' acting didn't live up to the expectations either.
Alan was reduced back to sales after his management ruined his old bike-making company. When he shifted his manufacturing to cheaper China they stole his models and began making their own bikes — but better and cheaper — and stole the industry.
He still flashes back to having to announce his US factory's closure, for which his father has still not forgiven him. A camping story recalls the father's lesson in self-reliance. By outsourcing its manufacturing Alan/America lost that essential value. No longer independent the once-powerful Alan/America suffers indignities and frustrations by having to go cap in hand to try to salvage a future by submission to an alien and antipathetic culture, i.e. Saudi Arabia.
The failed businessman also failed domestically, of course. His wife divorced him (for "not seeing the big picture"). He still has a tenuous relationship with his 20ish daughter — but he feels guilty for not being able to support her, to pay for her college, to provide for her future.
As befits a psychological analysis of America, the opening scene is Alan's dream. While he glibly offers a hearty pitch (product indeterminate so irrelevant), the key elements of his life explode in puffs of pink smoke behind him: his house, his wife, etc. He's flying to the Saudis where his new company depends on his selling the king on their new IT program for their plan to urbanize a desert.
The ensuing comedy derives from the fumblings of a stranger in a strange land. He can't adjust to the culture any more than to the time-lag. So he sleeps through his appointment times, only to find it doesn't matter. He was stood up anyway. He stumbles into meeting his elusive contact only to be dumped by him again. The guy lets him drive his flashy Audi but only because the American is no longer in the global driver's seat. The privilege is a taunt.
Obviously the key metaphor is the hologram of the title. Alan finally manages to show the king his company's impressive holography, where a "real" character interacts with a virtual figure. He creates the continuum between reality and illusion, substance and image, power and pretence. Despite the perfect presentation the Chinese beat Alan out again.
Though holography is the new, ultimate force of image-making, America has always defined itself by fabricated images. That's how Arthur Miller characterized his Loman, who taught his son the false importance of being "well-liked" and soared into failure with his suitcase and a smile. Falling for the image is the real failure to see the big picture.
Here the past image, the lost glory, is the Schwann bike, Alan's old company. The bike evokes America's lost station in the world, its mythic past of innocence, optimism, when it was a world power with clean hands and an unlimited future. Of course that was as illusory as the hologram.
The Danish Embassy party is an orgiastic release from the Saudi restrictions. Yet Alan is as out of his element there as in the Saudi culture. Its noise, fever and license seem like another dream. He declines the woman's offer of sex out of an uncertain mix of his purity and impotence.
Alan tries to negotiate the mysteries of the foreign culture. He's thrown by his driver's command of US pop music. He misses the banned booze — and suffers even more when he gets some. He's especially at sea with the differences in gender issues. In a climactic paradox the woman doctor swims topless with him — in order to divert suspicion! From behind, a topless woman and a man look the same, you see. The underwater frolic seems another dream, the positive replacement of the first.
In a side episode Alan has to deal with a growth on his back. It's an image of a burden, a threat that proves benign. In a drunken initiative he tries to cut it out himself, another failed self-reliance. He finally has it removed by his woman doctor, who returns to lance his malignant love-life as well.
If the romantic happy ending seems a bit forced and implausible — that's because it is. This cross-cultural relationship is our anodyne, our relief from reality, another version of the false image of domestic bliss Alan will be offering his clients when he sells them the new apartments yet to be built on the Saudi sands.
In that respect the entire film is a carefully selected image of Saudi Arabia. It's defined by its massive population, its alien dress and manners, its fervid religiosity, and its striking power. When someone decides to help Alan all his problems are immediately addressed. The huge and opulent buildings flash the new Muslim power, which dwarfs the American and leaves him helplessly dependent.
The film frames out any suggestion of the Saudis' support of terrorism, especially 9/11, and its current political play as a counterforce to the even more disruptive Iran. But that's fine. The connotations remain, especially as we see how the Saudi businessman plays his American partner. Spelling out that political reality would probably have been too big a boil for the back of this satiric and pointed comedy to bear.
I understand that this film was adapted from a novel. Now that I've seen this, I imagine the book must have been pretty interesting, but this just doesn't work for me as a film. It actually reminded me of the TV movies that were popular on network TV in the 70s and 80s. As a feature, I found it... slow. Meandering. Ultimately pointless.
Sometimes I wonder why some movies are made in the first place as nothing really happens although we are kept waiting for something to happen. Sad. Alan undergoes a mild culture shock and one would think anyone going to a new country with far different cultural mores would - at the very least - learn some basic language greetings, and of course, his "howdy" doesn't do it. He asks for a beer in the hotel and is told it is not allowed. He meets a Saudi woman doctor Zahra (Sarita Choudhury) who is in the process of getting a divorce and he falls for her. At times they are both alone (Whaaaat?) Zahra does treat him for a cyst on his back. It is my understanding that woman doctors in Saudi Arabia only treat women. He experiences numerous delays that hinder meetings to get his company's product presented.
Alan does have a good relationship with his driver, Yousef (Alexander Black) but Yousef always has to check to see that his car won't be blown up by the husband of the wife he is sleeping with. Their banter in the car is pretty good, but the problem is this: Alan's driver would be a nationality other than a Saudi and not a Saudi. Alan sees mannequins in a store window that sport bikinis. Why the Director allows something like this that would never be allowed in this country is beyond me. Yousef brings Alan to his family who live in the mountains and he asks Alan if he would fight for him should Yousef decide to join a revolution. It is here we think the main plot will take form, but it seems those script pages were lost in the desert winds and this goes nowhere. When will something happen? We are besides ourselves.
Wait. Wait. Alan has a date with Zahra the woman doctor who takes him to her home and they go snorkeling and we see her topless in the water with Alan. (Whaaaaat??) Is this it? The main plot? Sadly, no. Sad.
I don't know what city he is in, but the first time he enters the hotel he is greeted by the desk clerk with, "Welcome to the Hyatt Hotel, Jeddah." This is very strange as Alan is told the person he was to meet was not there and is in Jeddah. (Say what?) Maybe I heard it wrong. The clerk says this every other time Alan enters the hotel.
Apparently, Tom Hanks is miscast in this. His facial expressions to indicate humor fail. Not good. There is nothing funny in here. The banter in the car with Yousef almost serves as comic relief, but again those script pages were eaten by camels and although the banter is good, it is not ha ha funny, and a far cry from a LOL funny.
Apart from uncomfortable scenes within the Denmark Embassy with an aggressive Hanne (Sidse Babett Knudsen) nothing happens and we are lost. In this Embassy we see suggestive dances, make-out sessions, drug and alcohol use.
Again, we wonder why some movies are made and why some A-List stars bother to be in them. Nothing happens to pique our interest. Nothing. Sad. Very sad. (4/10)
Violence: No. Sex: No. Nudity: Yes, the snorkeling scenes. Language: No
There were at least three times when it seemed like an entire scene (possibly an entire reel) was missing, completely edited from the final cut, which gave the film a choppy feeling, like the studio had heavilly (and poorly) edited the film prior to release.
Why was Hanne even there, as a potential love interest for Hanks, but he keeps turning her down? She disappears for a considerable amount of time, only to reappear, just to be turned down again by Hanks. Again, why?
Hanks' driver was mildly amusing, but even he disappears midway through. Film can't decide if it wants to be a fish-out-of-water comedy, a love story, or a message movie, and ends up just being mostly pointless, completely unbelievable, entirely forgettable, also blandly acted (even by Hanks) , with only some impressive on-location photography in North Africa to recommend.
I spent a lot of the film's runtime trying to figure if Tom Hanks had a hair transplant? I think he did.
(It was only me, and exactly four others in the cinema during the advance screening, and two of them walked out two thirds into the film)
Filmed from 6 March 2014 to June 2014, but not released until April 2016.
The portrayal of Saudi people using American/European actors was cringe worthy. Do you expect me to suspend my disbelief when every Saudi person speaks perfect English with no Arabic accent and women wear makeup and look European? If you're making a movie that is supposed to take place and be filmed in Saudi Arabia, don't PC wash/"Europeanise" it. That's bullshit.
The movie itself wasn't interesting and I lost interest after less than 20 min.
Who did you think I was talking about? Well, yeah, I guess that most of what I just said about Ted Williams is true about Oscar-winning actor-producer Tom Hanks as well. Hanks also has a remarkably high career batting average – at the box office, but even the best don't get a hit every single time. The comedy-drama "A Hologram for the King" (R, 1:37) is a rare whiff for one of our most popular actors.
Hanks is Alan Clay, a washed-up, put-upon Boston corporate salesman on a business trip to Saudi Arabia. Alan's father (Tom Skeritt) criticizes him, his ex-wife (Jane Perry) hounds him and his college-aged daughter (Tracey Fairaway) is caught in the middle. Alan's boss (Eric Myers) belittles him and makes unreasonable demands, like the exact time when the ruler of a Muslim country will sit down for a tech presentation.
Alan is in Saudi Arabia with a 3-person tech team from his company, hoping to sell the king a video teleconferencing system which features a hologram of the person on the other end of the call. The king is building a new business center out in the desert and Alan's team is in the exhibition hall waiting to hear when the king will stop by. The exhibition hall is a nearby tent where the air conditioning only works some of the time, the wi-fi doesn't work at all and there is no food. Alan's repeated trips over to the business center to find solutions are met with indifference and Alan grows increasingly frustrated.
Personally, Alan is having a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings – in every way imaginable. He gets some help with the obvious culture shock from his driver, Yousef (Alexander Black), a Saudi national who once lived in the U.S., orients Alan to the culture and provides the film's comic relief. Alan also has problems with oversleeping, finding a drink in a country where alcohol is officially banned and is occupied with concern about a mysterious new growth in the middle of his back. For that first one, he has Yousef, for the second, a very friendly Danish businesswoman (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and for the third, a female doctor (Indian actress Sarita Choudhury), with whom he would like to become friendlier.
"A Hologram for the King" may not sound like a lot of fun, but it's even less fun that it sounds. Hanks is game, but after the movie's bizarre narrative opening (set to "Once in a Lifetime" by The Talking Heads) and a long period in which Hanks does little more than scowl, complain and look surprised and/or distressed, even watching Tom Hanks becomes tiresome. His signature charm doesn't show up until late in the film and by then it is too little too late. The supporting cast is solid, but not enough to adequately support Hanks, who gets walked at the plate, then appears winded as he rounds the cinematic bases.
Of course, it would help if the story were better. The film is based on Dave Eggers' 2012 novel (a National Book Award finalist) and was adapted by German writer-director Tom Tykwer, who also directs this film and previously collaborated with Hanks on 2012's disappointing "Cloud Atlas". This fish-out-of-water (and-in-the-desert) story follows a template similar to Bill Murray's 2015 "Rock the Kasbah" (which was more fun) and Tina Fey's 2016 "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" (which was funnier). Those movies were marginally enjoyable, but this one is less so. It also has elements similar to Hanks' "Cast Away" (2000), but is not as interesting. The climactic scene referred to in the title film's title is decidedly anti-climactic and the rest of the plot points are well-meaning but uninspiring. Of course, like baseball great Ted Williams, Hanks' reputation as one of the all-time greats in his field is well-deserved and secure, but I have to say that it feels like he struck out in his latest plate appearance. "C+"
first thing first we don't swim topless :D , second thing is we don't look like this ! sorry but there are better options than this actress :S she looks more like Indian and i would never tell that she is Saudi
the movie shows like if Jeddah is an old uncivilized city which is not true !!
people are way more sophisticated than how it seems to look in the movie
they didn't show the real side of the real Saudi families ! we are not living like Yousef barbarian way !!
and the elevator scene when there was a girl with to adults women looking at Tom in tough way like we never smile :D really we are not like this
and who said that there are not many female doctors in our country !! women in Saudi Arabia can be doctors, teachers , lawyers , designers , etc..
PS: there is no WAAY the our king would meet anyone for this simple project :s it is no easy to meet a king there are other people who do this meeting in behalf of the king
Kept waiting for the story to develop or for something humorous to happen. No such luck. When you find out it isn't some trippy dream he's having is when you really start to wonder what this movie is supposed to be about.
Maybe he was miscast. I didn't read the book, but I just checked out the Amazon reviews. Sounds like maybe this would have been better suited to a William H. Macy type.
Could have sworn this movie was over 2 hours long. Cannot think of anything redeeming about this movie unless you enjoy the feeling of being perplexed for 90 minutes.