I couldn’t really think of a fun parody image to reward you with for voting for Theater Hopper at buzzComix, so here’s a doodle of Tom spinning a plate! Why not, right?

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Cami and I had a very productive movie-watching weekend. I took Friday off and we spent the late morning at the zoo and then swung over to the theater for a matinee of The Terminal.

Maybe there is something wrong with the two of us, but we HATED this movie!

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the film, Tom Hanks plays an immigrant coming to the United States. But while he is in the air, a military coup occurs in his country and the government is overthrown. With the new government in place, Hank’s old country does not exist and the United States does not recognize the new one. This renders his passport invalid. He can’t return to his homeland and he can’t step onto American soil. He ends up in limbo, living inside the airport’s terminal waiting for the black tape to be cleared up.

The first 45 minutes of the movie are interesting as Hanks character attempts to overcome the situation. There is the inevitable language barrier, and some clever situation involving the food vouchers he loses and how he generates money so that he can eat.

But the film quickly loses steam once Hanks is given Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character to pine after. Zeta-Jones is TOTALLY miscast as a flight attendant who is woefully dependent on her relationships with men – ANY man. Think about every Catherine Zeta-Jones character ever put to screen. Bossy, confident, pushy. She doesn’t do “conflicted” very convincingly.

There are several points in the movie that ring emotionally false. For example, the scene detailed in today’s comic. In an attempt to win her over, Hanks takes Zeta-Jones’ character “out” for a romantic dinner. But since he can’t leave the terminal, they dine out on the terrace overlooking the tarmac. Various terminal employees lend a hand by posing as waiters. Suddenly, Kumar Pallana’s character – Gupta the janitor – steps in and starts spinning plates and juggling hoops… FOR NO REASON!

Another subplot involves one of the said terminal worker’s longing to gain the attention of an INS agent that Hank’s character sees on a daily basis. In exchange for food, he recruits Hanks to learn more information about her until he can build up the nerve to talk to her. The end of the subplot comes about when Hanks delivers an engagement ring on behalf of the airport employee and tells the INS agent he waits for him in the food court. She arrives, ring on finger and they get married! Neither of these characters have exchanged ONE LINE of dialogue in the entire movie!

This movie was setting off my B.S. detector more than I care to recall. Hanks – although portraying an lovable, almost infallible character, loses points for his Eastern Bloc “accent” which sounds more like guttural mumblings the more he learns English than anything authentic.

Cinematography Janusz Kaminski also drops the ball by creating a very murky color palette in some scenes while totally bleaching out others.

Ultimately, Hanks’ reasons for coming to the United States don’t seem to warrant the amount of patience he displays as he whittles away his time in the terminal. And there are several other scenes that felt lifted straight out of a sitcom. For example, the solemn line of police officers preventing Hanks from leaving, but then – AT THE LAST MINUTE – having a change of heart!

Have you ever watched some softball romantic comedy where all the misunderstanding that erupt during the course of the film could be cleared away if only one character would come forward with ONE PIECE of information? That’s what The Terminal feels like. We’re never given any reason why Stanley Tucci’s bureaucratic Frank Dixon just doesn’t push Hanks out the door when he becomes infuriated by his constant presence beyond some rigid obligation to “The Rules”. There is no genuine conflict here. Just a highly improbable situation that failed to connect with me despite several tries.

Hmm… I’m noticing that this little bloggy-blog is getting a little long in the tooth and I still haven’t gotten to the other two movies I saw this weekend – Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Saved!

Tell you what. I’ll come back to this space later and give you my thoughts on these films then. Sound good? Come back here for more overblown insights!

↓ Transcript
Okay, Tom. In this scene you’re trying to impress Catherine’s character...

... and in the middle of it, we’ll bring in Kumar’s character to spin plates for no reason!

Steven, I don’t mean to question your judgment, but that’s not in the script. Do you really think we should include it?

Hmmm. Maybe you’re right. Let’s get my “yes men” in here and see what they think!

What do you guys think? Is adding Kumar to the scene a good idea?

Oh YES, Mr. Spielberg!

Another brilliant decision!

Best idea I’ve heard all week!