Tom Hanks back in form in 'Terminal'

Monday, June 21, 2004

Tom Hanks gets back on track in "The Terminal," Steven Spielberg's sweet, tender, funny film.

It's a shame Spielberg hasn't paced his movie well, including a pair of young lovers to pull in teens and the college crowd, which helps inflate the running time past its due.

Hanks' Viktor Navorski lands at Kennedy Airport only to discover he has become a man without a country. His Eastern European homeland has been attacked by rebels, and war rages while the U.S. government tries to figure out which side it should favor.

Luckily, Viktor is intelligent and resourceful. His pitiful English improves. He learns, too, how to earn money for food (return carts, and the deposit is returned). And, although initially suspected of being a spy, airport employees become his friends.

There is also a romance with a klutzy flight attendant (radiant and amusing Catherine Zeta-Jones) who is unlucky in love. This reviewer liked the way their relationship ended because it wasn't as sentimental as the final sequence, which reveals the reason for Viktor's stubborn determination to get into Manhattan.

Stanley Tucci is Navorski's nemesis, a man who goes by the rules but begins to have a streak of revenge in his nature after he assumes the operation of the terminal. His restrained performance with a current of venality is one of his best.

So is this one of Hanks' finest portraits, redeeming his shallow bad-guy work in "The Ladykillers."

Stiller nasty in 'Dodgeball'

Dodgeball may be growing in popularity as a sport, but "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" is a movie destined to turn off more potential fans than it turns on.

Ben Stiller is at his nastiest best as White Goodman (the name is one of its weak stabs at satire). He's a former blimp-sized guy who has made a mint with his fitness salon.

Arrogant and determined, he decides to grab Average Joe's, a gym that is run down and on the verge of bankruptcy. Owner Pete (Vince Vaughn in a solid performance) has been negligent, but he also can't bear to make his loser clientele pay up. One (Stephen Root) is a porn lover whose wife is a shrew. Another is a teen (Justin Long) trying to make the cheerleading squad, led by the girl of his dreams. And so on, cliches all.

Goodman's pompous belief that his bank's attorney (Stiller's real-life wife, Christine Taylor) will fall for him instantly is quickly overridden and she leaves the jerk for nice-guy Pete and a game of dodgeball that could win $50,000 and a reprieve for the gym. No matter none of the team members knows how to play or that Goodman has hired a team of experts. Frankly, it doesn't look difficult to play. It just looks stupid.

Indeed, the script does satirize sports. Basketball's "Sweet Sixteen" becomes the "Salacious Sixteen" when it comes to dodgeball. Also, the commentators take their lumps with former teen idol Jason Batemen doing a hilarious impression of a jock.

But Stiller is too ramped-up as Goodman. He's better when he's the hapless victim of a toilet that overflows.

© 2004 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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© 2004 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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