A Fun Trip
Passengers who get stuck in an airport handle the imposition in different ways; some sleep, others read and many just “people watch” -- which is usually a fascinating study of human behavior. When foreign-born Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) lands at a New York airport, he learns the government of his country is in a state of flux, and U.S. rules say his visa must therefore be revoked.
Viktor haggles with security official Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), who himself does not know what to do with Viktor. He can’t send the man home or allow him to leave the airport. Finally he assigns Viktor to the holding area -- a mall-like town in the airport -- to wait.
Unable to speak English, losing his food vouchers and with little money, Viktor is perplexed. As hours stretch into days, he becomes a chameleon, blending within the holding area. He commences his own scrutiny of human behavior and meets a menagerie of workers, who themselves represent a slice of Americana.
Joe (Chi McBride) is a baggage handler who leads the group in helping Viktor. Gupta (Kumar Pallana) is a janitor who makes life difficult for Viktor -- and offers plenty of laughs while doing it. Enrique (Diego Luna) is a food service worker with a heart. He feeds Viktor but also enlists his help to win the favor of Officer Dolores Torres (Zoë Saldana); and since Dolores is the one with the stamp that can mark Viktor’s paperwork to leave the terminal -- he’s more than happy to play matchmaker.
Viktor even finds a little romance on his own when he encounters flight attendant, Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Amelia, tired of jumping through hoops for a married man, finds Viktor’s simplicity and trustworthiness appealing.
Director Steven Spielberg delivers all the right feelings -- humor, intrigue and angst -- in The Terminal. “After Catch Me If You Can, I wanted to do another movie that could make you laugh and cry and feel good about the world,” said Spielberg. “I believe all of us have felt a little bit like Viktor at some time in our lives -- this displaced person in search of a life.”
Stanley Tucci is fabulous as a man trying to do his job with his hands tied.
Once again Tom Hanks shows the depths of his talent. There’s just a little of Forrest Gump’s naiveté in Viktor and a smidgeon of the resourcefulness Hanks instilled in Chuck Noland in Cast Away. He’s one of the few mega-stars that can still make viewers believe he’s the real character he’s playing.
“Of all the movies we’ve done together,” said Spielberg, “this was the most inventive I’ve ever seen Tom be on the set. He really brought things to the character that weren’t in the script or in my imagination, things no one was expecting.”
In addition to Tucci and Hanks, Kumar Pallana also adds significantly to the film with a standout comic performance.
My advice? Book a seat at The Terminal; it’s safer, cheaper and just as much fun as a real trip.
(Released by DreamWorks and rated “PG-13” for brief language and drug references.)