Written by / 4/21/2016 / No comments / , ,

TOM HANKS STARRING IN HOLOGRAM FOR A KING

Thomas of Arabia in Hologram for a King, Release Year: 2016
There's a feeling of peace and tranquility when... no, not as yet another American film set in a Middle East/Arab country provides an optimistic, non-terrorist glimpse that Hollywood feels is a necessary means of diplomacy concerning a maligned religion when in fact it's another polar opposite belief-system that gets a perpetually awful rap, since the 1960's, in that place called Tinsel Town: But when a gentle, mellow film abruptly ends before you realize it's even really begun, despite having sat there for a swift ninety-minutes, there's something unique and satisfying as our main character Tom Hanks, whose world-weary company man Alan, along with a handful of employees, traveling from America to Saudi Arabia to sell a Holographic system to, you got it, The King, discovers a giant lump on his back and, eventually, like the trailers already spoiled, there's a romance between Alan and his pretty doctor (more of a "handsome" lady), Sarita Choudhury as Zahra, who has as genuine a chemistry with Hanks as comic relief driver Yousef, sans the romance. Thus, Alexander Black steals a movie that needs stealing since the beloved Tom, at this point, though still embodying that good old unique charm and a genuine ability to wield both an endearing smile and sincere pathos, resembles a cross between W.C. Fields and someone he's always been visually similar to, and who should've, at one point in his long, eclectic career, played his sister: that being GREASE starlet Stockard Channing.

Bosom Desert Buddies
But getting looks out of the way, Tom can still carry a film the likes of BRIDGE OF SPIES but HOLOGRAM FOR A KING is more of a travelogue piece where the vast LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (quoted herein) virgin sand terrain harbors, throughout a long lone highway, a few small compounds, hospitals and that immense city looming in the backdrop. Meanwhile, the only suspense occurs when Yousef accidentally drives his American passenger into the place where all Muslim bows are aimed: that being, Mecca. Yet nothing comes of this possibly dire situation, or the much too easily cured "might be benign though could be dangerous" lump; the latter perhaps a good thing since "Disease of the Week" melodramas should only be suffered through on the small screen, inhabiting a project all its own via The Lifetime or Hallmark Channel or part of an ongoing soap opera. But HOLOGRAM, despite its attempt to rise above the mainstream fray, will certainly... like many "labor of love" projects i.e. motion pictures where big stars are paid less to appear in something they consider meaningful... wind up in a supermarket bargain bin, and that's not a put-down, entirely. The question, "So, mom, how's the movie you bought while standing in line at Ralphs?" will most likely be answered with a simple, contented nod, without having to say a word.

RATING: **1/2
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