Tom Hanks plays a sales man who has to travel to Saudi Arabia to pitch to the King a Holographic IT solution to a new development that he has planned.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen Tom Hanks in a role like this before, the whole thing just reeks of a second attempt at a movie he’s done before. I’ve been a massive fan of Hanks for most of my life, from his cameo in The Love Boat to Bridge of Spies I’ve been there. From Comedy to Drama he can do it all and I’ll turn up and give my money to the cinema.
Here he plays Alan, in his early 50’s and because he has a relationship with one of the Princes of Saudi he has a job and is the man for the mission to pitch the technology that his company has to sell. With a bitter divorce behind him and a daughter who he’s struggling to pay for her college it’s not the ideal time to go that far from home. In Saudi he meets a driver called Yousef, played by Alexander Black, who brings him from his hotel to the area where Alan and his IT team will do the pitch. While there Alan notices that there is a massive tumour growing on his back and adjusts to the life in the country.
I want to point out that Alexander Black as Yousef steals the show as far as I’m concerned. He’s a carefree and honest character which in that country seems to be unique. The comedy that Black manages to bring into the film is truthful and human while still entertaining. Hanks is just as good as you think and the start of the film with the Talking Heads Song Days Go By is so much fun to watch. The fish out of water tale of the whole film is just a little cliché and there is little new here, you get the feeling that they almost wanted to do American Beauty with a Saudi backdrop but just fail at the goalpost. The soundtrack and cinematography are all good, and the script works for a lot of the movie.
While trying to explain the past actions of Alan they rush through his back story which would have made things easier for the watcher. Tom Skerritt shows up, playing Alan’s Father, which is odd as I doubt there is that much of an age gap between the two stars. He’s also annoyingly underused which goes back to the whole back story not being done well enough.
So. The big question is this. Is this film worth paying to see in a cinema? Well that’s a question that I’ve been asking myself since viewing. I ask it all the time. All movies to someone are worth paying into a cinema to watch. There is nothing overly wrong with the film, it’s just that there is nothing spectacular about it. I enjoyed the performances and the film itself, it’s a comfortable pair of shoes. You can walk around town in them all day every day, but they are not going to feature in any best dressed list, hope that makes as much sense here as it did in my head. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would pay to see this in a cinema, but if it’s a toss-up between this and something else, I wouldn’t be too bothered catching this on a paid streaming service at home, or if there are still DVD renting places out there I’d happily skip on down to the store and pay cash to rent it. If it were on TV I’d probably get some diet Coke and some popcorn and just flake out. Would I add it to my DVD collection? Probably not. Would I complain if I got a present of the DVD or Blu Ray? No I surely would not utter a word of complaint and I’d be happy to shove it up with the other millions discs that I have.
It’s easy viewing and does not test the actors or the viewer, it also does not give you cause for a major complaint, which is a complaint enough, considering the talent involved.
Director: Tom Tykwer
Writers: Dave Eggers (novel), Tom Tykwer (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury
Complete cast list HERE