I disliked this movie, for the same reason I have disliked the award-winning Dave Eggers’ stories. There is not enough universal truth anywhere near them, and they are self-indulgently boring, whining and ego-centric. Willie Loman vibes are not sufficient to make one care.
Here, rather than the sad tale of a caregiver, Eggers himself, we are introduced to Alan Clay and given a sad tale of a divorced salesman and board member, who has hurt American workers by moving the Schwinn bicycle factory to China, only to have the Chinese rip off the technology. Hoping to successfully right some past wrongs, he travels to Saudi Arabia to sell hologram technology to the king. He knew the king’s nephew long ago and made him laugh once in a restroom. “What do you call a fish with no “i” ? A younger, but still the salesman Alan, makes a “fsh” sound. It doesn’t get much better.
Tom Hanks can not carry bad writing, fine actor though he is. The initial dream sequence on the plane was pink puff ball stupid. Not since ” Cinderella” have things vanished so on screen. The mantra ” same as it ever was” means ? Things leave him for no reason? Don’t think so.
Tom Tykwer could have made a funny movie including the cultural differences between countries, but here he stereotypes the Chinese, and makesthe Saudis look like hypocritical Muslims and business bluffers. Everyone studied in America, is having affairs, loves money and booze. Differences seem to be confined to what one keeps on the car dash and hanging from the rear view mirror: camel and prayer beads versus St. Christopher statues and rosaries. His driver Intoduces himself as the third son of his father’s fourth wife. He ( Alexander Black) disguises Alan as a Muslim so that he can enter Mecca. He teaches him how to raise the index finger at street beggars to “end the discussion” by signaling that ” God will provide”. Alan falls off chairs three times and showers four. He has a precancerous cyst removed by a female doctor. They ride in a car together for an hour and enumerate their children, and tell a few memorable life affirming stories. They begin an e-mail flirtation and finally fool her nosy neighbors by snorkeling topless. Two bare backs evidentially connote two male friends cavorting in coral studded reefs.
Lots of post mid-life crisis angst somehow morphs into a love story, of sorts. Save your money unless you love capitalism and WASP worldviews with a romantic cherry on the top.