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Inspired by Dan’s enthusiastic review at Top10films, I did not hestitate and gave my last open Spielberg slot a try. Yes, I even had seen that one with the guy claiming to be a pilot – and got almost killed with boredom… I think before watching The Terminal my mind was firmly set on the concept: Spielberg as a director of light-spirited adventure and action (from Indiana Jones to A.I., Jurassic Park to Close Encounters…): first choice, creating immortal cinema moments. Spielberg as director of thoughtful reflections on humanity and its darker sides (Schindler, Munich, Colour Purple): well-intended at best (Schindler / Munich), clumsy and embarassing at worst (that slavery film… what was it called? Amistad! Or Empire of the Sun… Always!!!). Spielber as a director of light-hearted comedy: nope, not my piece of cake at all. So: that pilot film, Miracle on something Street (did he direct that or only produce? Writing offline, so cannot check now), and The Terminal… this is terribly medicore entertainment to me. I am not a fan of comedies in the first place, I admit, so any comedy that comes my way has to fight against my preconception that I would rather watch some horrorthrilleractiondrama than be asked to laugh about people I dislike. Over the last three years I saw maybe 3 or 4 films that I would call good comedies, that I really never regretted having seen.
The Terminal is not among them. Tom Hanks’ incommunicado situation at the outset does not work for me, I find that rather embarassing and hard to watch, the impossibility to get your opinion across, the inability to behave like the person you actually are… that is hard to watch, I find, and does not tickle my funny bone at all – rather makes me angry why this cliché needs to be taken on again. The romances … weak, not played to their potential (even thoug Zoe Saldana… always worth putting in front of a camera). The one element that kind of worked for me (but that I found to be underutilised) was the airport security team and their boss, who is losing control over his usually tight operation. Stanley Tucci plays it straight and tough, and is funny at what he does. There is also one scene that I found almost hilarious, when Navorski sets up a fake “Canteloni” restaurant in the airport to impress the slightly annoying and boringly written Amelia Warren character (Zeta-Jones). Zeta-Jones surprisingly does not get involved in poor acting, for once, but decently fils a slot that is written in a strangely non-funny way for a comedy.
Maybe someone is more inclined to watch comedies will like this film – it wasn’t for me. I’d rather wait for the next… dammit, now I cannot remember what the last good comedy was that I watched…

The Terminal 2004 – IMDb.


  1. Good review Thomas, and apologies for the bad recommendation! I’m wondering whether you like the Tom Hanks comedies from the 80s as his performance here reminded me of his care-free period before Oscar nominations took over. I did find the film funny probably because I warmed to Hanks but you’re right to single out Tucci’s performance. For me I’d love to see Spielberg make a film like this every so often.

  2. the recommendation wasn’t bad – that kind of film is just not cut out for me… exactly because those 80s comedies do nothing for me. This always made me wonder why Tom Hanks is famous in the first place – I never realised that there are so many people appreciating those comedies (for the same reason I cannot understand why Will Ferrell is famous – I think I have never even seen him in a film…)

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