By Sean Gandert, Albuquerque High School Class of 004
For the Journal
Steven Spielberg is perhaps the greatest living director, maybe the greatest of all time. Tom Hanks has won two of five Oscar nominations for best actor, and has made 11 movies that grossed more than $100 million. That in mind, it seems anything the duo makes would have to be great.
So "The Terminal" is a big disappointment. It isn't great; it's only very, very good.
Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) finds himself stranded in the JFK airport because a coup took place in his home country, the fictional Krakozia, while he was in transit to the United States. This means his passport can't officially be recognized, forcing him to go back home. Except, Krakozia has closed its borders; no flights are allowed into the country.
He is told by customs officer Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) that he must remain in the international flight section of the airport until things have cleared up. The rest of the film is simply that, Viktor remaining in the airport.
"The Terminal" is a comedy in the classic sense of the word. While many modern comedies are about slapstick, "Terminal's" humor stems mostly from the absurdity of the situation, combined with a sincere main character.
The scenes that do delve into slapstick, most notably with Gupta the janitor, feel like real situations. When Gupta explains that he wets the floor in busy spots because watching people fall is his only entertainment, the feeling is that this is part of his character, not a gag to make the film goofier.
Viktor's honesty and altruism make him seem more foreign than his accent. This makes him the antithesis of the Americans working at JFK. His love interest, Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), is drawn to him by his unwavering helpfulness and honesty. Conversely, customs officer Dixon disdains Viktor's failure to break rules that would allow him to leave.
Viktor overcomes obstacles in his quest, but his character remains stagnant. Ultimately, he will have an incredible story to tell but that's all.
Over all, the film scores top marks. The set is incredible, using no special effects.
It's just that for once, Spielberg and Hanks seemed to pull an A-.