A Hologram for the King (2016)

I watch a lot of action movies and kids’ movies, but when I’m on planes I search the free entertainment library for the unexpected… a movie about a boy in Laos who builds a rocket, for example.

I chose A Hologram for the King for its similarly exotic setting; I’ve been to Laos, but never Saudi Arabia.

This Tom Hanks movie was definitely unexpected; I hadn’t heard of the book by the same name by Dave Eggers.

I liked the middle-aged central character and was interested in the problems he faced. In addition, the movie has some great humor in it. I have mixed feelings about the overall plot, however.


More below, with SPOILERS.

What’s truly unexpected about this movie is that it seems to switch genres somewhere in the middle. It felt like it was going to be about one man’s foreign and frustrating experience working in Saudi Arabia. His career hit a rough spot; he went overseas to try to redeem himself; things didn’t go as smoothly as he’d hoped; he tried to finesse them; he seemed to be moving forward.

But then, the whole career aspect of the movie just gets sidelined because of a romance with a local woman. In the end, middle-aged businessman doesn’t make the sale, but by that point, it doesn’t matter.

By all accounts, the book treats his problems with more depth than the script, though possibly not with more soul than Hanks himself.