Tom Hanks has few, if any, peers playing the ordinary man, but, unfortunately, he is starring in an ordinary film. This movie begins with a very creative and funny scene with a Talking Heads song, but goes downhill from there. It’s adapted from the Dave Eggers novel.
Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) was once a very high-level executive for Schwinn, but he gutted the company by out-sourcing the manufacturing to China. This turned out to be a bad idea and Schwinn lost its dominant position. Alan left Schwinn and is now a salesman for a hi-tech company. His mission is to go to Saudi Arabia to sell a holographic communication device to the King.
Tom is anxious, depressed, and having a mid-life crisis. He is divorced and he can’t afford to keep his 21-year-old daughter in college, so she now works as a waitress. Except for his daughter, his life is meaningless and loveless.
Alan is under intense pressure from his boss to close the deal, but each day the King isn’t around, his team has no wi-fi, and they are stationed in a tent without any air-conditioning or food. The odds for success seem small.
Due to his lack of enthusiasm, Alan keeps over-sleeping, so he misses the shuttle out to the site (about an hour’s drive from his hotel). He relies on Yousef (Alexander Black), who serves as his Driver/Guide and provides most the the humor.
While Alan is waiting for his chance to meet the King, he meets a pretty Danish woman, Hanne (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who might be able to help him make his presentation. He also has a cyst on his back which needs medical treatment. Due to this, he meets an attractive Saudi physician named Zahra (Sarita Choudury).
Will Alan find some resolution to his inner angst? Will he find love with with either Hanne or Zahra? Will he finally meet the King, and, if he does, will he close the deal? (I don’t know about you, but the suspense is killing me!)
The film is too slow and Alan, although quite likable, is not a sufficiently interesting character. It’s only occasionally funny and the humor isn’t very clever either.
This is an OTBR – only for Tom Hanks fans.