A Hologram for the King

2016 comedy

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Tom Hanks goes to the desert.

This is a strange Tom Hanks movie that likely won't appeal to many Tom Hanks fans or people who like strange cinema. It's a much more subdued follow-up to Cloud Atlas, co-directed by Tom Tykwer, but it's definitely not clean. It starts with a Hanks rendition of the Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime," and has several too-cutesy touches along the way. Hanks is his generally reliable self, a likable everyman who, as he ages, seems more willing to show us what his body looks like. There are interesting opportunities missed, an almost-touching romance, and a great, funny character played by Alexander Black. The problem is that the story is a complete mess, and it never seems like anybody involved ever had a grasp on what they wanted this to be. Is it some sort of commentary on happenings in the Middle East? Is it a comedy? Is it a dark comedy? Is it a romantic comedy? Is it about a potential business transaction? Is it about a father-daughter relationship? Is it about a guy who might have cancer? Is it a love story? In the end, it's just both too sleek and too sloppy to recommend.

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