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The Terminal
2004 - PG-13 - 128 Mins.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Laurie MacDonald
Written By: Andrew Nichol
Starring: Tom Hanks Catherine Zeta-Jones Stanley Tucci Diego Luna Kumar Pallana
Review by: Greg Ursic
   
Ever get that feeling that you don’t belong? For Victor Novarski (Tom Hanks) it’s more than a feeling. After de-planing at JFK and ready to tackle the sights of the Big Apple, Viktor soon learns that there has been a revolution in his home country of Karkozhia and that they’ve suspended all relations with outside nations and he’s now a man without a country. Trapped in the terminal, he patiently waits for things to change, much to the chagrin of Frank (Stanley Tucci) the head of the security who wants Viktor off his hands. Enter Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a flustered stewardess, who develops a connection with Viktor, which makes Frank even more determined to expel his “guest”

While the premise of this story sounds far fetched it actually has a grain of truth to it: in 1988, Merhan Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian national was stranded at Charles De Gaulle airport after his refugee papers were stolen. Nasseri, initially caught up in bureaucratic red tape enacted to make it more difficult for illegals to enter the country, lives in the airport to this day in spite of the fact that he’s finally been granted refugee status. While he initially relied on the kindness of strangers, his lot has certainly improved (rumor has it that he received $250,000 for the rights to his story). Reality and 'The Terminal' diverge at this point.

Although his accent fluctuates throughout the film, Tom Hanks is nonetheless captivating as Victor. He connects with the character on an emotional level and exudes a helpless boyish charm that dares you not to root for him, much like the aura he projected in 'Forrest Gump'. Catherine Zeta-Jones reminded me of a Barbie doll: while gorgeous, there’s something plastic about her that just doesn’t feel right and her confused damsel in distress routine quickly wears thin. Likewise, Stanley Tucci, whose work I typically enjoy, is reduced to playing a stereotypical baddie – you know he’d be twirling his moustache if had one. His mean spirited and deliberate efforts to sabotage Victor feel petty and detract from the film. Supporting cast to the rescue.

Zoe Saldana is refreshing as Torres, the tough talking immigration officer with a heart, who harbors a dark secret that she’s terrified will get out. Mexican heartthrob Diego Luna is amusing as the lovestruck food delivery guy who enlists Victor’s as his Cyrano. But the role of spotlight thief goes to Kumar Pallana, as Gupta the cantankerous conspiracy obsessed janitor (who is convinced that Victor is up to no good. It is the uneasy bond between Victor and Gupta that ultimately provide the film’s funniest and most touching moments.

In spite of poor writing, and the awkward, forced relationship between Jones and Hanks, 'The Terminal' has a good heart, which makes it bearable. If you’re a Hanks fan, make it a matinee.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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