Possible spoilers ahead!
“A Hologram for the King” opens with perhaps the craziest thing you’ll ever see Tom Hanks do. The scene is set to “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads, Hanks talk-sings the opening lyrics as images of his house, car and wife going up in purple smoke. This sequence ends with a close-up of him alone, riding a roller coaster, as he stares blankly at the camera.
Now that scene alone, was worth the price of admission. Which in this case was nothing, because I borrowed the blu-ray from someone. But had I paid to see this movie, I would have been happy with the opening scene alone.
Anyways, Tom Hanks plays Hanks Alan Clay, a business man who is having money and life problems. The opening sequence is actually a dream Hanks is having on a plane on the way to Saudi Arabia. He’s going there hoping to sell a hologram contract to the king of Saudi Arabia, a deal that will make him enough money to pay for his daughter’s college tuition.
Hanks has to travel an hour every morning from the city to the project’s headquarters, only for a receptionist to tell him that the king is not in. The stresses pile up as his business trip becomes a seemingly endless, yet highly amusing adventure: His small tech team is set up in a tent but have no Wi-Fi, AC or food. It isn’t long before a giant bump appears on Alan’s back. And because he’s having trouble adjusting to Saudi Arabia, he misses his shuttle to the king’s headquarters because he oversleeps each morning.
However, this is a good thing because it forces him to call driver Yousef (Alexander Black), arguably the best character in the movie. Some of the movie’s funniest scenes include Yousef and his strange choice in music, and of course his fear his car is always rigged to explode.
After many car ride scenes and wide open shots of the desert, the film injects a romance into the third act. Hanks’ Alan Clay falls for the doctor treating his back bump, played by Sarita Choudhury. Of course due to several reasons, this romance isn’t easy on the two, and this plot is not given a ton of time in the movie. But you know what? I was okay with that, because it felt more natural this way. So I liked the fact the romance wasn’t the main focus of the film.
Hanks as usual, is a great everyman, which means he can elevate any movie he is in. Here, plays a wonderful outsider, and serves as our tour guide to a part of the world we really don’t see portrayed in a positive light too often.
Out of the three Tom Hanks movies released this year, “Sully” is easily the best one of the three. The most often forgotten 2016 Tom Hanks movie is probably “A Hologram for the King” which came out the same weekend as “The Jungle Book” and got crushed at the box office.
“A Hologram for the King” is not one of Hanks’ flashier roles, nor is it one of his best movies. But Hologram is a surprisingly charming movie. There is no bad guys here, no evil organization trying to take over, the world doesn’t even need saving this time. “A Hologram for the King” is just a movie about a guy who forgot to enjoy life, who hs to go to Saudi Arabia to find work, and instead finds himself and a love he never expected.
“A Hologram for the King” final score: 7.5