REVIEW: A Hologram for the King

10 05 2016

A Hologram for the KingWhen the eventual biographers take stock of Tom Hanks’ career, something tells me that “A Hologram for the King” will inevitably get lumped in a grouping with 2011’s “Larry Crowne.” Both films, in spite of all else they offer, serve primarily as vehicles to continue Hanks’ romantic leading man status well into the back half of his fifties.

An “Eat Pray Love” comparison feels somewhat apropos given the exotic setting as backdrop for personal issues, yet that story took the trouble to connect the dots. Tom Tykwer’s “A Hologram for the King” takes no such efforts. It’s as if the work of Hanks’ Alan, a recently divorced American IT salesman, has no function other than to get his body in Saudi Arabia. The professional and the personal never tie into each other, which is a shame given all the potential in presenting the eponymous task – hologram technology to the king of the kingdom. The ultimate form of presence in pixels. Ripe for metaphors, no?

Instead, the best the movie has to offer is a benign tumor that sprouts on Alan’s back. Get it? The tumor is a physical manifestation of his growing anxieties and midlife crisis! How middle school English class.

“A Hologram for the King” is adapted from a novel by Dave Eggers, a wonderfully profound author whose inspired touch appears seemingly only in fragments throughout the movie. Bits of irony and hard-fought humanism slip through the cracks occasionally, but these take a backseat to the Tom Hanks show. Admittedly, there are much worse shows to see. But we have copious video evidence of Hanks being Hanks. Let him continue to explore his craft, a la “Captain Phillips” and “Bridge of Spies.” These pixels are only slightly less hollow than the ones in the title. B-2stars

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2 responses

16 05 2016
ChadEHarris

“It’s as if the work of Hanks’ Alan, a recently divorced American IT salesman, has no function other than to get his body in Saudi Arabia.”

Well said. Still, there is just something about Tom Hanks that I just love watching. And this premise seemed good enough to get my body into the theatre. Have you heard his most recent interview with Terry Goss on Fresh Air? He discusses that point in his career when he said he was making a very good living as the romantic lead but was given the choice to make a change to more serious roles. He said that transition (the first of his “modern era”) happened with Apollo 13. He did say, “I think,” but I was a little confused about how Philadelphia fits in there. And Forrest Gump–and the two Oscars.

http://www.npr.org/2016/04/26/475573489/tom-hanks-says-self-doubt-is-a-high-wire-act-that-we-all-walk

I did enjoy Alexander Black as Yousef. There was something about his energy, and I thought there was substance.

Also, I can’t figure out why–in this moment–I cannot remember Tom Skerritt in this movie . . .

16 05 2016
ChadEHarris

Of course I know that filming and release schedules are a factor, but I am curious now.

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