Parents' Guide to

A Hologram for the King

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Book-based Hanks drama has drinking, sex; lacks a point.

Movie R 2016 97 minutes
A Hologram for the King Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+

Extraordinary film!

I read several bad reviews about this movie but I thought it was thought provoking and I was entranced throughout the whole movie. Having said this I feel only adults would enjoy or "get" this movie. Most adults could relate to at least some if not all aspects of it. I in fact am going to watch it again. I highly recommend it.

This title has:

Great messages
age 18+

If this was a beer, it would be flat

First, they don't tell you this, but a ladies breasts are exposed for a good 4-5 minutes while she is swimming around and in bed in a sexual manner. We read the sex section and thought it was ok b/c it did not say it was exploiting or objectifying women in topless scenes. Second, the story line was dull having no life in it. Not only did I feel disrespected as a woman after watching this but I also felt I wasted my time thinking a movie with Tom Hanks might be as good as Bridge of Spies.

This title has:

Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (2):

This Death of a Modern Salesman redux is mystifyingly devoid of a dramatic arc -- but, on the other hand, Hanks' enduring likability and skill make it all easier to swallow. Throughout the film, Clay asks questions but gets no real responses. Business connections are promised, but the Saudis rarely fulfill them. Over and over we're shown that Clay is trapped in both a cultural gap that's blocking his business deal and a personal gap that's blocking his life. It's as if the movie has decided not be a storytelling vehicle but rather a virtual experience simulator that recreates in us Alan's discomfort, depression, and desire to drown the pain in booze.

It's no surprise that you can't help feeling the same yen for oblivion while watching. Just when it seems like a point is about to be made, there is no point. Through an error, the driver takes Clay through Mecca -- even though it's strictly forbidden to bring non-Muslims into the holy city -- but the episode has no consequences and no discernible meaning. Then, the movie actually gets interesting when Clay takes a chance on love but, to reiterate the theme of stoppage, the movie abruptly ends about 12 minutes later. This is particularly odd in that the action begins with the promise of quirky, otherworldly insight, as Hanks sings the words to The Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" while, as the lyrics dictate, his house and wife go poofing away into thin air. Around 90 minutes later, the credits roll, leaving the plot poofing away into thin air, too.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate