January 29, 2005

Why, Tom Hanks, why?

Last night I watched "The Terminal". It was, um, terrible. If the quality of a movie was judged relative to its potential (e.g. interesting basic premise, directorial and acting talent), this could be one of the worst movies ever made. Incredibly, Mr. Cranky only gave it two bombs ("Consistently annoying"), whereas I would have applied, with neither hesitation nor mercy, his "dynamite" rating:

"So godawful that it ruptured the very fabric of space and time with the sheer overpowering force of its mediocrity."

It's hard to tell what was worse: the fact that they took an interesting and contemporary premise and mauled it savagely, the amateurish writing, the over-the-top acting, or the way they horribly botched both love stories by making one "too Hollywood"[*] and the other "not Hollywood enough"[**]. Here's how I imagine a movie like this gets made. Somebody has a half-decent idea ("let's make a movie about getting stuck in immigration-administrative limbo in a U.S. airport"). They then go to their mortal enemy who wants nothing more than to ruin their career and tell them their idea and ask them to help.

Here are the kinds of, er, important lessons you can learn from The Terminal:

  • People who work in immigration for the Department of Homeland Security are savagely inept and, in some cases, randomly vindictive.
  • The best way to communicate "your government has been overthrown by a coup" to someone who can't speak your language is to smash a bag of potato chips with an apple.
  • Among the few elementary words a foreigner who can't carry on a simple conversation with immigration officials will have at his disposal are "shark", "ghost", and "Dracula."
  • You can leave the U.S. with Canadian-bought drugs (naturally) for your sick goat but not for your dying father.
  • A massive airliner can stop on a dime to avoid running someone over on the tarmac.
  • You can't trust a sex-crazed flight attendant with poorly-made heels.

Here's the question I have at the end of it all: after being in this movie, did Tom Hanks have his agent killed, or did he just fire him? I'm just asking.

[*] Boy woos girl through intermediary; boy proposes to girl via intermediary; girl says yes without ever having met boy; boy and girl drive airport cart through airport on wedding day.

[**] Good boy meets bad girl; boy and girl mutually woo; boy and girl throw away pagers in moment of romance and wild abandon; girl cruelly dumps boy for adulterer who's really good in bed.

Posted by anatole at January 29, 2005 11:17 PM

I have sworn off anything starring Tom Hanks. Please also add John Travolta to that list.

Posted by: Lana at January 31, 2005 10:26 AM

My friend Daniela has additional problems with this film. Apparently, the imaginary language from an imaginary country that Tom Hanks speaks is Bulgarian. It's not terrible Bulgarian, except that he randomly yells "Mustard!" as an expletive throughout the film. Yeesh! If you're going to use an existing language as an imaginary language, at least you should use expletives that make sense!

Posted by: Em at January 31, 2005 06:05 PM

The worst thing about the movie is its huge failure to live up to its potential. When I first saw the trailer, I was kind of excited -- I'd read an account of the true story from which it gets its premise. Unfortunately, all the screenwriters took was the premise, grafting on a cloying cliched plot. You can read the real story here:


If we're looking for a silver lining here, at least there's this:

"As of the summer of 2004, Nasseri is still living in the airport. He does not lack for money Dreamworks paid him a rumored $250,000 for the rights to his story."

Posted by: Madhava at February 1, 2005 12:35 PM