The Kingdom

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/10/03

There’s an entire history lesson in the montage of credits that opens The Kingdom. That’s where we learn that this is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thereby dashing any chance of knights, fair maidens, dragons and whatever else draws an audience to escapist entertainment instead of a political 2×4 upside the head.

Fade in on a softball game where the dread hangs in the air like Bruce Campbell’s chin.

All around are the Saudi locals, their heads wrapped in picnic tablecloths, their eyes darting left and right as if to say “Are you going to finish that Turkish coffee or can I feed it to my camel?”

Boom! A hole opens up in the Earth and many forgettable and anonymous extras and bit players are swallowed into it. Either an assistant director called “lunch” or a bomb just exploded!

kingdom_sweat.jpgAmericans are dead, and that means the FBI needs to send a crack squad to Saudi Arabia, and the squad must be on crack indeed to include Jason Bateman, whose job it is to provide unfunny Jack Black-style comic relief on a Justine Bateman-style budget.

But what if our crew is attacked? Will they be safe?

“My voluminous lips can deflect the shock of any blast,” said Jennifer Garner. Indeed, Hollywood gossip suggests that rooms go quiet when Garner enters not because she’s Jennifer Garner but because her lips actually absorb sound!

“So can my impeccable comedic timing,” said Jason Batemen, who until recently honed his survival skills on residuals from Teen Wolf Too.

“So can my swaggering attitude,” added Jamie Foxx.

“So can my cast iron balls,” said Chris Cooper, clanging as he walked.

kingdom_tee.jpgWho’s behind the big blast? What’s more, who are these Americans living in this Saudi Arabian enclave, and why do so many of them seem to be the kin of Leatherface and go by the code-name “Cooter”?

Our heroes interview Saudi witnesses in their own language, and it sounds like this: “Blah blah blah blah HOMBRE!”

Hey, I know that word! I just didn’t know it was Saudi!

In one scene, Chris Cooper settles back to read Wooden Boat Magazine. I’m not kidding. “I’m still waiting for my latest issues of Hand-Cranked Jalopy Quarterly and Buggy Whip Life,” he said.

Then Cooper descends into a muddy hole. “There’s no evidence here – except for evidence of Jennifer Garner’s spa treatment.”

This is the kind of investigation that works by wandering about the crime scene with dark sunglasses and stern expressions. When does the evidence-gathering end and the ass-kicking begin?!

Finally, after plenty of “CSI’ve had enough,” our team cruises the nasty part of town, evades a shoulder-launched missile, and gets pinned down!

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to be pinned down by any actor whose name isn’t above the title, below the title, or anywhere within a five mile radius of the title!” says Jennifer Garner, grabbing a machine gun – and looking as if she’s never before grabbed a machine, let alone one that’s part gun.

Garner is a forensic examiner: “The minute these Saudis show me a forensic I will examine it!” she says with great indignation and an even greater tight t-shirt. Indeed, that tee would leave little to the imagination – if only she had little to imagine,

Jamie Foxx in the Middle-East…Previously, the closest Jamie has gotten to nearby Abu Dhabi is yelling “Abu Dhabi Doo!” when the whistle blows at the end of his workday.

“Where are the magic carpets at?” asks Foxx as he rubs Jennifer Garner’s ass in the hope of making a genie appear.

“Sorry, my magic carpet disappeared in a Brazilian wax in Beverly Hills,” she said.

That’s when a million Muslims faced Garner and bowed in unison as their prayers and ours were answered.

The Kingdom is the kickoff to a season of politically charged thrillers, some more charged than others.

As for this one, the charge is more like an I.O.U.

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