Film: The Terminal

The Terminal is a 2004 comedy drama directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Stanley Tucci, and featuring an early appearance from Zoe Saldana.

Victor Navorski, a man from the fictional country of Krakozhia, has arrived in New York City, more specifically at JFK Airport. But there's a problem. During his flight, Victor's country ceased to exist due to a civil war. He can't leave the airport to go to New York, and he can't fly home, since his country technically doesn't exist anymore. So he starts living in the airport terminal, making friends with various workers, and developing feelings for a flight attendant named Amelia.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Enrique, the catering car driver who likes Star Trek and is too shy to ask his Love Interest out.
  • Actor Allusion: In a retroactive example, Zoe Saldana plays a customs officer who's a Star Trek fan and goes to conventions dressed as Captain Kirk's assistant.
  • Anti-Villain: Dixon. He's just doing his job after all, and after all, he arguably has a point since not all the newcomers have good intentions (see the drug dealer). His early Pet the Dog moment, where he momentarily orders his security away from the front door to give Victor the chance to slip out unnoticed, cements this even further. Though he definitely crosses the line when he tries to stop Victor from leaving the airport once it's legal, for seemingly no other reason (wasn't this what he wanted all along?) than pure spite.
  • Central Theme: The rules of bureaucracy, while well-intentioned and generally useful, can sometimes prevent good people from getting the help they need.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Victor doesn't end up with Amelia.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Dixon. He's essentially just following the rules of his job by not letting Victor leave, but that just ties into the Central Theme that sometimes the rules are doing more harm than good and need to be bent or broken.
  • Flying Dutchman: Victor, of the "man without a country" variant.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gupta gets himself deported to delay Viktor's flight back to Krakozhia because he values Viktor accomplishing his dream more than his own freedom.
  • Honor Before Reason: Victor could easily get sanctuary status in the U.S. by saying he is afraid to return to his country. Since people are getting blown up in the streets in his home country, he has reason to be afraid. Yet, he doesn't feel afraid and refuses to say he is.
  • Humble Goal: Victor just wants to get into New York to complete the autograph set of his father's favorite jazz musicians.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The cranky Indian janitor who likes to watch people who ignore his "slippery floor" signs and throws away Victor's food card turns out to let Victor finish his task by delaying the flight he's supposed to be bound to. Also Dixon in the ending, where having previously done everything possible to stop Viktor leaving the terminal, decides he's no real threat to anyone and doesn't pursue him after he finally leaves.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The commercials advertised this film as if it was just a situational comedy about a guy caught in a wacky situation and can't leave the airport. It's really more serious and slice-of-life than that, though there are plenty of comedic portions.
  • No Languages Were Harmed: Victor's native language, Krakozhian, is actually Bulgarian.
  • Noble Demon: Despite constantly trying to get Victor arrested and deported, Dixon refuses to do so without Victor actually giving him cause. He'll use most any other questionable tactic, though.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Frank Dixon at the end of the film, trying everything he can to keep Victor in out of spite. Technically, he's just following the rules.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: A variation. The Planters Peanut Can that Viktor carried around with him contains the signatures of all jazz musicians who were included in the famous photograph "A Great Day in Harlem". Viktor's father, a jazz enthusiast, collected all of the signatures except for Benny Golson's before he died. Viktor now took on the task and flew to New York City to complete the collection for his father.
  • Ruritania: Krakozhia.
  • Stuck At The Airport Plot; This film is basically this trope: The Movie.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film is partially inspired by the 18-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminal I, Paris, France from 1988 to 2006.
  • White and Grey Morality: Ultimately Frank decides, after Victor goes away to get his autograph, that he is not a danger to anyone and lets him go.
  • You Can't Go Home Again