On Screen

Love that Layover

 By Stephen Fay

“The Terminal” is playing at Maine Coast Mall Cinemas. It is rated PG-13 but go ahead and bring grammie and the kids.

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Oh dear! Tom Hanks is a castaway again. Only this time he’s marooned at JFK for nine months.

And Steven Spielberg, who gave us “E.T.” 22 years ago, is back with another lovable alien. Only this time it’s an illegal alien.

Welcome to “The Terminal,” a fairy tale of warmth, wit and kindness. Superb actors — Hanks, Stanley Tucci and Catherine Zeta-Jones — are matched with a genius director and a thoroughly engaging story. What’s not to like?

This is the fable of Viktor Navorski (Hanks), a good-natured traveler from mythical Krakozhia, a tiny Eastern European nation. Viktor is a man on a sentimental mission to New York, but his country falls to rebel forces while he’s in the air and by the time he hits passport control at JFK he is a man without a visa, a country or a word of English.

Tucci plays the martinet immigration official who won’t permit Viktor to return to the old country or enter the new one. Viktor’s new home, until things get sorted out at home, is Gate 67.

Over the days, then weeks, then months, Viktor evolves. He starts out a starving nobody in a glass-and-linoleum prison of Burger Kings and Border’s, but his good heart and resourcefulness work their magic.

He teaches himself English by reading the news crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNN. Despite his own poverty and plight, he is not so poor that he cannot lend an ear or a hand to the broken spirits who people the busy airport.

He becomes the poster boy for a listless society of minimum-wage clerks and multi-national janitors. Then he becomes their spirit, then their courage. By the end he’s the Simon Bolivar of the international transit lounge and all the lost and lonely souls therein.

The movie needs all of the good will it can generate (which is tons) to whisk the viewer over some thin spots near the end. But it’s worth the trip. You never had such a nice layover.

“The Terminal” is playing at Maine Coast Mall Cinemas. It is rated PG-13 but go ahead and bring grammie and the kids.

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