I don't get out to the airport as often as I used to. But from what I gather watching the latest Steven Spielberg flick The Terminal, the tightened security I keep hearing about must have lapsed. Apparently you can hang out for months at a time, even build your own bedroom set and get comfy -- if you can find a nice abandoned wing of the airport that is. And given the high cost of housing, it's a wonder we don't all rush out to LAX and move right in. Then again maybe the security regulations I thought were in place are only waved for huggable immigrants like the one Tom Hanks plays in this improbable film.

Hanks is Viktor Navorksy, a man between countries who is trapped in the international terminal of JFK when his homeland erupts in revolution and he has no place to land. Viktor follows in the footsteps of other characters the Jimmy Stewart of our age has played with an accent reminiscent of Latka on Taxi. He is Forrest Smirnoff. He is Cast Away in the Duty Free. But with Spielberg at the helm there's a bit of E.T. among the baggage handlers at work here too.

For every good guy there is a villain and we have Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci). Dixon is head of Homeland Security here at the airport, the man assigned to vet the border, and what a mean little jingoist he is. Weepy immigrants only inspire him to kick their butts back to Kantstanyastan. But he's met his match in Viktor.

Finding allies in the terminal, prisoners to the clock like himself, Viktor starts to take on saintly qualities, using his situation to perform "good deeds." Viktor unites a food services guy and a pretty security officer and even throws rice at their wedding here in the airport (what a handy place!) And Viktor uses his spare time to fix up the ol' hangar, for it turns out he is a master carpenter too! He magically rebuilds parts of the terminal out of thin air, and uses those same skills to woo Catherine Zeta-Jones as a dizzy sexpot stewardess who doesn't seem to care that Viktor has no zip code and even less zip.

And the more earnest and hard-working Viktor shows himself to be, the more Dixon wants to show him the gate.

Among the doe-eyed fringe dwellers here in what we are led to believe is a "microcosm of America" are a variety of other lovable actors and accents to go with them. You see, it's not the people who are the problem, it's those who are in charge. And despite the fact that there are more little people, big meanies like Dixon have guns, and this annoying thing called The Law they have to enforce all the time. But since the laws of logic and reality don't apply why should any others?

For all the Hallmark heart of Viktor's Big Adventure, nothing happens. For all the sentimentality, it never gets off the ground. This is the kind of movie someone must have thought of while killing time out at the airport between flights. This is one idea they should have kept on standby.

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