Movie Poster
The Terminal
Steven Spielberg
Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna
128 min.


Less a movie than a sequence of sentimentalist come-shots, The Terminal is mathematically designed to maximize its tug at your heart-strings. And it brings a tear to your eye: a bilious tear of righteous hatred.

Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorsky, a tourist from the made-up country of Krakhozia. He comes to New York to get a Jazz autograph for his dead father, but is denied at customs because of political turmoil in his homeland. So he dicks around the airport speaking an invented form of slavic-sounding gibberish, seducing stewardesses with his earnestness, and irking Stanley Tucci. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with Stanley Tucci in this movie? His character, the Department of Homeland Security airport manager, hates Viktor and does everything in his power to never let him get that stupid autograph. Yo, Tucci, get some character motivations.

Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg are bad people. I spent a good portion of the film trying to figure out whether it would have been a bigger improvement for the film to have a real actor or a real director. Then I realized I was overlooking how bad the soundtrack was. With the set they have, an impressive airport terminal, a Buster Keaton or a Jacques Tati could have made a great mechanical comedy. Spielberg and Hanks hint at that, but never elevate above worthless mugging and pratfalls. They could also have made a real satire, something political, something with a statement, but The Terminal has been carefully cleaned of all relevance.

Someday people will realize that Spielberg is an insufferable hack. Until then, as long as he keeps making the Terminal at least I won't have to hear about Oscar considerations.

Pat Jackson