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DVD Releases

Tom Hanks of Arabia

Alexander Black and Tom Hanks in “A Hologram for the King.”
Alexander Black and Tom Hanks in “A Hologram for the King.”Helmut Prein

The ever-thorny debate concerning cultural “whitewashing” by Hollywood flared up again recently over a trailer for “The Great Wall,” an upcoming China-set action fantasy starring Matt Damon. Here we go again, diversity proponents bristled — another movie with a white-bread American actor playing savior to foreigners. The validity of these particular slams won’t come into full focus until the film is actually released, of course. In the meantime, this week’s home entertainment lineup includes a title that might offer an appeasing — and pleasing — alternative: the underappreciated Tom Hanks comedy-drama
“A Hologram for the King”
(2016). We know, we know — we’re mentioning Hanks first thing in a story set in Saudi Arabia. But this tale from inventive filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Cloud Atlas”) and literati-fave source novelist Dave Eggers isn’t just one more cinematic case of a savvy Westerner landing in some alien cultural backwater. Hanks’s character is the clueless foreigner, a washed-up sales exec desperate to sell the Saudi king on some technology he’s now peddling, but unable to grasp the rules to the societal game everyone else is playing. The movie isn’t bulletproof; offbeat American newcomer Alexander Black gets second billing as Hanks’s Saudi hired ride, and Tykwer shot mostly in Morocco rather than Riyadh (Boston, too). But a bonus featurette chatting with a thoughtful Arab production consultant certainly gives the impression he was copacetic with the project’s approach (and not just because he was on the payroll). The segment, and the film, are a nice bit of cross-cultural connection in times when that’s been challenging. (Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.98; available Tuesday)

COMEDY

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KEANU (2016)

Anything-but-tough Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have to play gangster — um, gangsta — to recover Peele’s eponymous kidnapped kitty in this feature showcase. The duo’s standout sketch background definitely shows in many of the laughs, but also in their struggle to sustain a full 100 minutes of story. Love the George Michael shout-outs, though. (It’s been a pretty sweet year for Jorge Miguel, between this and “Deadpool.”) Missing “Key & Peele” after watching the movie? No worries — the Comedy Central series’ complete five-season run has just gotten a piggyback release from another distributor. Extras: featurette; gag reel. (Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98)

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COMEDY

THE BRONZE (2016)

For fans of “The Big Bang Theory,” this gymnastics-themed comedy comes with a built-in curiosity factor: seeing Melissa Rauch try on something other than TV alter-ego Bernadette’s chirpy voice and micro-cardigans. For everyone else, the draw is the cynical pin stuck into the sport’s perky culture by Rauch’s faded-Olympian-turned-misanthropic-coach. Never mind that Rauch herself is co-writer — no one here seems to recognize that if they just throttled back on their hard-R approach, the movie’s shock value might actually benefit. Still, as the action unfolds down in Rio it’s fun to watch. Extras: deleted scenes. (Sony, $19.99; Blu-ray, $25.99)


Titles are available now unless specified. Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.