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Entertainment News

Cuteness crashes into 'Terminal'


"The Terminal" *1/2

  • RATING: PG-13 (some strong language, drug references)
  • CAST: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana
  • CREDITS: A DreamWorks release directed by Steven Spielberg; screenplay by Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson, from story by Andrew Niccol and Gervasi
  • WHERE: Showcase Cinemas East, West; Clio, Fenton, Lapeer, Owosso cinemas; Birch Run Cinema Hollywood
  • ***

    Don't fly out of "The Terminal" unless you're looking for a 2-hour, 8-minute ride of extended dullness, forced cuteness and head-scratching logic. This is what we've been waiting for from the formidable team of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg?

    Between Hanks, Spielberg and the three writers who had a hand in the lackluster script, the megastar probably deserves the least blame, although his emoting skills can only do so much with the gentle protagonist, a visitor from a fictional Eastern European country who finds himself stranded at a busy New York airport. The script is said to be based on a true story, but truth couldn't be sillier than fiction here.

    Awaiting entry to the United States for a Big Apple visit, Hanks' Viktor Navorski is held up because, while his plane was in the air, a political coup in his native land has temporarily voided his passport. Until American relations with Viktor's country are clarified, he must remain within the confines of the airport terminal. He is a man without a country, without a national identity, as he sets up makeshift sleeping quarters in a deserted gate area and finds inventive ways to pay for his meals at the terminal eateries.

    We presume the real airport guy didn't have such a numbskull as Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) in charge of security. Dixon, a by-the-book bureaucrat, figures Viktor will react to his situation by escaping, only Viktor is too naive, or honest, for that. Months ... yes, months pass. Where is the rest of the government here?

    Then again, Spielberg has to fill the 2 hours (and 8 minutes), and "The Terminal" is designed to be entertainment that goes down easy. So Viktor has on his side a band of likable airport employees - a poker-playing baggage handler (Chi McBride), a mind game-playing janitor (Kumar Pallana) and a lovesick food service worker (Diego Luna). The food service worker uses Viktor as a go-between to a court customs officer (Zoe Saldana) whom he apparently has never even met. (You can guess what happens, logical or not.)

    Then there's Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an insecure flight attendant who, oddly, confides in Viktor after her latest romantic fling goes sour. Viktor can barely speak English, but we're expected to buy into this budding relationship.

    Having tested our patience, the film eventually gets around to explaining what Viktor did for a living back home, and why he's chosen to visit New York. Neither revelation is worth the wait, and neither is "The Terminal" as a whole. For a Hanks-Spielberg collaboration worth your money, try renting "Saving Private Ryan" or "Catch Me If You Can."


    Ed Bradley talks about movies at 8:40 a.m. Fridays with Andrew Heller on the "Come Heller High Water" show on WFNT-AM (1470) and at 9:25 a.m. Sundays with Jason Carr on "ABC12 News Sunday Morning" on WJRT (Channel 12).

    © 2004 Flint Journal. Used with permission

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