The Terminal

Tom Hanks hams it up in this Steven Spielberg comedy, as a sort of grown-up E.T. visiting the U.S. from a fictional eastern European country. After landing at JFK airport he learns that his native land has been torn asunder by civil war; able neither to return nor acquire a visa, he winds up living at the airport for a spell, becoming the pal of other disenfranchised “little people” who work there. Early reports suggested this might owe something to Jacques Tati's Playtime, which proves to be true mainly in the product placement and a few bits of physical comedy. As usual Spielberg is too bored by everyday life to use his premise for anything but a fairy tale, whose cheap pathos suggests a bad Chaplin imitation. This grows progressively phonier and eventually devolves into Mr. Roberts, with Stanley Tucci filling in for James Cagney as an airport bureaucrat. With Catherine Zeta-Jones; written by Sacha Gervasi, Andrew Niccol, and Jeff Nathanson. PG-13, 128 min.

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