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A Hologram for the King

Amazon Prime, Hulu

Panned by critics and ignored by moviegoers, this 2016 flick was a box office loser that eventually earned the dubious honor of being Tom Hanks’ lowest grossing film in 30 years. And so it was quickly put out to video rental pasture until the streaming services wisely decided to pick it up. Despite its bad rep, this is a superbly entertaining movie that’s both thoughtful and hilarious. It opens with Hanks’ own enchanting—and slightly bizarre—rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” before introducing us to his character, Alan. A struggling, once-successful American salesman, Alan travels halfway around the world to Saudi Arabia, determined to pull off a much-needed big deal. What makes this movie so entertaining isn’t the story itself but how it’s told, specifically the relatable details and an infusion of often subtle yet truly funny humor. As always, Hanks is an unfailing comic genius while his wacky Saudi driver Yousef (played by Alexander Black) is downright hilarious.

– Joni Williams
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