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Movie Review: The Terminal

Alternate Title: Trip Interruptus

Story: The very idea of being stranded in an airport for nine months is enough to make me want to grab my handy traveling vial of Xanax. I HATE airports and everything about them. I hate the crowds, the scrutiny, the probing, the profiling, the smells, the food and the noise. As you can imagine very few people want to travel with me (my sister is the rare exception).

The premise of Steven Spielberg's new film is just that. A man from the fictitious country of Krakosia is stranded at JFK when his country goes to war while he was flying to the US and his Visa is now not recognized by the US Gov't. Until this glitch is worked out he has to stay at the International lounge.

The rest of this improbable sapfest is filled with vignettes as our weary fellow tries his best to survive in this unusual situation (loosely based on a true story about a guy who was stranded in a Paris airport). Our traveler learns English, has time to fall in love, make new friends, help several airport workers work out their personal problems, get a job and become the hero of the airport.

Should you see it? It has some good laughs, many feel good moments and a bit of good acting. But it is also too long, predictable, too much like a TV sitcom and considering the pedigree behind this film -- very disappointing.

Acting: Tom Hanks, who is Mr. Everyman (even from the fictitious country of Krakosia) gives a good performance but I expect better from him. Catherine Zeta-Jones as the flight attendant love interest, is a complete waste. Stanley Tucci, as the mean customs agent looked like he was having the most fun. Everyone else is directly out of typecasting central.

Predilection: None.

Food: Lots of food from Burger King and the airport catering service. Cannelloni was a big item of discussion as well. And, until our hero figures out how to earn money he survives on saltine crackers, ketchup, mustard and mayo.

Blatant Product Placement: Steven (I never met a product I won't put in a movie) Spielberg probably started the whole product placement frenzy back when he made E.T. and prominently featured Reese's Pieces candy. This film is as blatant a product placement movie as I have seen in a long time. Some of the more prominent products are: Burger King, United Airlines, Hugo Boss, Starbucks, Sbarros and Borders. I am sure I am leaving out many more but I do not take notes during films and my memory cannot handle all of this trivial detail.

Soundtrack: Soaringly over the top.

Opening Titles: Except for the name of the film, all of the credits are at the end.

Theater Audience: A spartan crowd who all laughed at exactly the same times.

Sappy Factor: 6

Predictability Level: Off the charts

Oscar Worthy: A definitive no.

Nit Picking: I missed the spark that should have been in this film. Perhaps it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. For some better Spielberg films, try: Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, Hook (I liked this film no matter what you think), Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, Poltergeist, E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Length: A bit over two hours.