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The Terminal

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4


*Also starring: Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Eddie Jones, Scott Adsit, Helena Barrett, Anastasia Basil, Rini Bell, Stephon Fuller



Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In Steven Spielberg's THE TERMINAL, Viktor Navorski, played in another heart-warming performance by Tom Hanks, is a local celebrity and hero. Viktor's entire world is the International Transit Lounge at the JFK airport in New York. His homemade bedroom is in Gate 67, currently unused while awaiting renovation. His flight home has been delayed -- for months. In his halting English, he explains his problem succinctly as, "America Closed," at least for him.

As Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), a quintessential bureaucrat with the title of Director of Immigration at JFK, explains it, Viktor is stuck in a Twilight Zone existence because of "a crack in the system." Krakozhia, Viktor's homeland, has had a coup just before he lands, which causes him to be a man without a country. All visas from his country have been voided by our State Department, but he can't go home since his country and his passport are no longer recognized by the United States.

This adult fairy tale is low on logic but reasonably easy to forgive its flaws, including how fast Viktor learns English. With its themes and moods, it has "Christmas movie" written all over it, including its ending in a blowing snow storm. DreamWorks, in a marketing move that is either gutsy or foolish, decided to open the film in the heat of summer, when special effects-laden blockbusters are ready to smash anything this sentimental. The movie is cute but it goes on too long and isn't nearly as entertaining as the last Spielberg and Hanks collaboration, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN -- another holiday-type movie, which did open in the right season.

Without fungible funds, Viktor has to find a way to make American money in order to eat. His first scheme has him collecting carts, which he turns in for quarters at an automated machine. Frank, who does all he can to get rid of Viktor so he can become someone else's problem, shut downs the terminal's cart entrepreneur by hiring someone for the job. Viktor becomes more aggressive in search for cash after he falls for a gorgeous stewardess named Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Amelia says she is thirty-nine but tells people she is thirty-three, while men assume she is twenty-seven. Zeta-Jones appears to have her own personal time machine, aging negative amounts between movies, getting younger looking by the day.

The overstuffed movie has an on-going mystery. Viktor carries around a can of Planter's Peanuts -- the movie is bursting with product placements -- full of who knows what. Frank is dying to know, but Viktor won't talk about it. Suffice it to say that you'll never guess. I'm hoping that enough people will guess that summer is for more than monsters and mayhem and that a picture like THE TERMINAL is worth as much consideration as vampire hunters, ancient warriors and boy wizards.

THE TERMINAL runs too long at 2:10. It is rated PG-13 for "brief language and drug references" and would be acceptable for kids around 7 and up.

Copyright İ 2004 Steve Rhodes

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