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A Hologram for the King [2016] [R] - 5.3.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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A Saudi doctor (Sarita Choudhury) and a taxi driver (Alexander Black) help a middle-aged Boston businessman (Tom Hanks) with local customs and bureaucracy as he pitches a deal for hologram communications software to the king of Saudi Arabia. Also with Tracey Fairaway, David Menkin, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Whishaw, Jane Perry and Tom Skerrit. Directed by Tom Tykwer. Many lines of dialogue are in Arabic with English subtitles and several lines are not translated. [1:37]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A shirtless man wearing shorts dives into the sea and swims: he surfaces, a woman swims up to him and says that she is also shirtless and wearing only a pair of the same type of shorts and the couple snorkels underwater (revealing chest, breasts and back and her bare breasts bounce a little in the water) and they surface farther out to sea.
 Several shower scenes include the bare shoulders and arms of a man under the shower water, and one of the scenes shows his chest and abdomen; another scene shows part of his upper back as he feels a large lump on it. A large, dimly lit party scene shows many men wearing shorts only or slacks with shirt fronts open to reveal large bare abdomens and chests (one man shimmies to music and his belly shakes); many women wear skimpy bikinis or short-shorts and bra-type tops that show cleavage as they dance in a shallow swimming pool with bare-chested men. On a crowded dance floor and in a hallway, women wearing short dresses. In two scenes, two women wearing tank tops reveal a little cleavage. The display window of a lingerie store holds two headless female mannequins wearing a corset and panties and a corset, panties and sheer cover-up.
 A woman at a party attempts to seduce an inebriated man (please see the Substance Use category for more details): she kisses him, pulls off her dress to reveal a knee-length slip, and opens his shirt (revealing some chest hair and we see some of her cleavage) as a singer in another room sings out, "Baby, take me home with you tonight" and the woman pushes the man down onto a mat and kisses him; he says he is too drunk for sex and she offers to do "something else" and unbuckles his pants and he offers to tell her a joke instead (no sex occurs).
 A man and a woman swim underwater and kneel on a sandy bottom where they kiss for several seconds: the camera cuts to the couple facing each other in close-up as she says, "It's been a long time," and he replies, "Same here" and the man lies on top of her, they embrace and kiss (we see part of her back and part of his back) as she gasps lightly, and they turn face-to-face in a close-up as they caress each other's faces. A man and a woman kiss for several seconds in shadow. A man holds a woman's hand briefly.
 A man tells another man that a married man goes to Europe and has sex with boys; one of the men asks if the other man is gay and the first man is surprised and says that the man having sex with boys does not mean the man is gay. A man says that he receives sexy text messages from a married woman, but we never see the texts; he tells another man that he just talks on the phone with her, but that her husband suspects a sexual affair. A man and a woman who are beginning to date admit to each other that they are each in the midst of divorce proceedings. A man asks another man why a woman doctor is risking her career by attending to the second man in an emergency alone, at night, against customs and local law; the first man suggests a romance is developing and the second man says that he does not know.

VIOLENCE/GORE 3 - A man finds a large cyst or tumor near his spine and blames it for all his personal problems; he holds a steak knife over a match flame, then reaches back and points the knife at the cyst as a close-up shows his face grimacing and the camera cuts to the man waking up on his bed in the morning (we see a large blood spot on the sheet and blood covering the back of his T-shirt). We see a man's feet in a shower stall with water washing a small amount of blood down the drain. A man tells another man that blood is on the back of his shirt and we see a small spot. A doctor places a scalpel next to a lump on a man's back and we see a line of red on the lump from a previous biopsy sample; we then see surgical scissors and hear the doctor say a tugging will be felt, but see no incision or tissue, and the scene ends.
 A man stalks into a building, berates a receptionist and finds a man that takes him to a partially constructed building full of rusty rebar and dangerous stairways.
 Several men line up along a short stone wall and load rifles and one man points his rifle at the shadow of a wolf, but the wolf walks away from the herd and the man lowers his rifle.
 A dream sequence shows a man singing while strapped to a rickety roller-coaster, wondering how he became bankrupt and divorced; another part of the sequence shows him walk by an SUV, a large house, and a jabbering housewife that each silently blows up in a purple mist as music plays in the background. A man wakes up on an airplane with a start, wakes up in a hotel room three times with a start and he awakens in a panic attack gasping and sweating; he calls his doctor who arrives and administers an injection (please see the Substance Use category for more details) and he says on the phone, "I think I'm having a stroke."
 A man climbs dark, debris-filled stairs in a construction site and hears men's voices yelling; he finds a group of men, some very elderly and all living there and two of the younger men struggle in some sort of wrestling match as the crowd of men shouts at them.
 Two men argue loudly in a car because the driver forgot that their friend in the car is not Muslim and may not even ride through the holy city they are in; the men disguise the other man in a robe and scarf and tell him to not even look at the large mosque as they pass by, and we see hundreds of Muslim men bowing onto prayer rugs. A man shouting on a phone at the man at the other end for several seconds complains about America outsourcing jobs to China; the second man finally hangs up, unable to get in a word.
 An Uber-type driver disconnects his engine from the dashboard every time he must go into a building to find his passenger, stating that an enemy may hotwire his car to explode if he does not disconnect it; his most frequent passenger becomes concerned with a possible car bombing. A driver panics and argues loudly with his passenger stating that he saw three men (an enemy and two henchmen) standing outside his bedroom window. A man tells another man to sit down with another man and assure him that the second man is not having an affair with his wife (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details). A man tells another man that executions in a country are done publicly so that all may see. A man says, "They can only kill me with a golden bullet." A man asks a friend what a case of rifles is doing near a bench and the friend says that the men of the family are going to hunt wolves that may kill their sheep herd. A man sees emaciated men dressed in rags, working construction on a miles-wide desert site and his guide says, "We don't have unions; we have Filipinos." A man is startled by large numbers of men suddenly chanting prayers and bowing on prayer mats as a musical call to worship sounds via a PA system. A man awakens in a large airplane filled completely with men chanting prayers, led by a man on the intercom. During a hunting scene at night, several men suddenly turn around, stand in a line and chant prayers. A man lies face down on a surgical table as three surgeons enter and a doctor enters and says that she must do the minor surgery; one surgeon storms out in anger and the other two follow him quietly. A man asks another man about taking too many pictures and the man jokes that he is part-time freelancing for the CIA; the other man looks stunned and shows up, shouting, at the home of another man and a loud argument occurs among several of the men there, ending with the joking man convincing everyone that he was joking about the CIA, but will not do so again.
 A technology salesman arrives in a foreign country to find miles of hot sand and dusty wind, instead of the city he was expecting and every day he makes appointments to meet the king at a construction site, but the king never appears, and the salesman becomes increasingly tense, annoyed and angry; the man and his team must work and wait in a hot tent with no air conditioning, food, or Internet access.
 A man falls off three chairs in different scenes and hits the ground hard, but is not injured. A man sits on a bench that collapses under him, but he is not hurt.
 A man bends over a sink and brushes his teeth, spitting foamy white toothpaste into the sink in a few scenes. We see the back end of a camel as it urinates onto the sand. A man vomits chunky yellow vomit onto his bed and toward the camera.
 A man drives another man to a hospital where a doctor looks at a lump on the man's back, sprays it with disinfectant, and takes a small sample from it and then asks if the patient was trying to attempt suicide when he stuck a knife into it; he says no, but that he has been lacking energy and falling out of chairs, so the lump must be the cause and a doctor tells the man that precancerous cells were found and the lump should be removed.
 Three sharks in a cartoon move toward a man wearing a business suit.

PROFANITY 5 - About 3 F-words and a "WTF" on a cellphone screen, 3 sexual references, 6 scatological terms, 2 anatomical terms, 2 mild obscenities, name-calling (stupid, crazy, absurd, dumb, godforsaken, meshuggenah), 2 religious profanities (GD), 4 religious exclamations (Oh My God, Oh God, Thank God, Jesus). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man at a party is bent over a mirror on a tall table and snorts some white powder from a tube of some sort, a woman asks a man if he has pills for jet lag and the man says that he was afraid he'd be arrested in customs, a doctor injects a man with a clear liquid after a panic attack and tells him he will be OK, a doctor sprays a disinfectant on a cyst on a man's back, and a doctor tells a man that an anesthetic that we did not see has worked on a cyst. A woman gives a man an alcoholic beverage in an olive oil bottle and he drinks a short glass of it and gasps loudly and then drinks four more short glasses of it (he falls asleep and wakes up with a hangover, looking dizzy), a man drinks a glass of alcohol and falls asleep and then wakes up in a panic attack, a man in a hologram image clinks a glass of wine against a real man's glass of juice in a presentation in a country where alcohol is illegal, a party in an embassy features double-shot glasses of alcohol drunk by men and women along with tall cocktails and glasses of whiskey and beer, a bottle of wine is seen on a coffee table, a man pours two glasses of wine from a bottle and he and a woman hold the glasses but do not drink, a beverage cart holds five bottles of liquor (gin, rum, vodka and whiskeys), a man asks for a beer and another man gets a glass of beer for him and himself and they both drink, a man asks for beer and is told that alcohol is illegal in that country, and a man at home sits beside a table where there is a small bottle of whiskey. A man smokes a cigarette while driving, and a woman lights and smokes a cigarette on a terrace.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Middle-age angst, Saudi Arabia, sales as a career, outsourcing American jobs to foreign nations, American made goods, bureaucracy, anxiety, travel problems, cultures, religions, alcohol being illegal in some countries, mistreated construction workers, relationships, love, divorce, starting over.

MESSAGE - Life is more than making a big sale.

Special Keywords: S5 - V3 - P5 - MPAAR

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