It's unreasonable to expect that every new Steven Spielberg movie be as effortlessly iconic as Catch Me If You Can, but The Terminal is still a disappointment. A military coup strands Eastern European tourist Tom Hanks at JFK airport, where his man-without-a-country status becomes a running annoyance to the Department of Homeland Security (personified by a persnickety Stanley Tucci). We're continually reminded of how cute it is that foreigners talk funny as we watch Hanks' disoriented alien rub elbows with a variety of one-dimensional foils. It's the sort of innocuous comedy of circumstance some critics love to call a "quirky romp," except for the periodic injection of heavy-handed messages about our newly closed society. Comparing this film to Catch, it's easy to believe that Spielberg can only make grand statements about our life and times when he isn't trying. And if the guy really is our greatest filmmaker, what's with that mortifying shot of a boom mike hanging over co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones' head?
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