The Terminal

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Terminal Movie Poster Image
Lovely and well worth sharing with your family.
  • PG-13
  • 2004
  • 129 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Tense scenes.

Sex

References to adultery.

Language

Brief mild words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking, smoking, reference to drug smuggling.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie's PG-13 rating comes from brief strong language. There are some mild sexual references, including adultery. Characters drink and smoke and there is a reference to drugs. There are a few tense and sad moments.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion March 21, 2009

A Charming Family Comedy/Drama...

THE TERMINAL isn't really a movie about one thing. It's a fish-out-of-water comedy, a romance, a quirky character study, and an inspiring fable. All... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 year old Written byeswanson April 9, 2008

Right mix of emotions

Spielberg did a great job eliciting a wide range of emotions from the viewer in this film. There are tense moments, touching moments, sad moments, and funny mo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byChristopher K August 7, 2009

Surprisingly Good

This is very different from the average Tom Hanks movie, (Tom Hanks plays a Russian who knows very little English.) I considered it a bit funny and even a littl... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn December 14, 2011

Easilly Spielberg's most low-brow film is touching, sad

The Terminal is very easily Steven Spielberg's most low-brow and simple plotted film, and all the good for it, which is very nice considering the fact that... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE TERMINAL, Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at New York's JFK airport from a fictional Eastern European country. While he was in the air, his country suffered a "regime change," and so his passport and visa are now invalid. He can't enter the U.S. but he can't go back due to immigration laws. This creates a problem for Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), a by-the-book bureaucrat who wants a promotion. He hopes the Navorski problem will just go away -- literally. But Navorski, unlike others who are held back by immigration officials, is disinclined to try to sneak out into the U.S. So he ends up living in the airport. The story of heroes who have to go somewhere gives us a chance to see their journeys as symbolic of their learning and spiritual growth. A quest is compelling because we identify with a hero who is moving toward a goal. But this movie is the story of a journey interrupted, and the way that interruption became a journey of its own. It reminds us that like its lovely dual-meaning tagline, sometimes "life is waiting."

Is it any good?

Director Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Jeff Nathanson, and star Hanks have created a story of great warmth and depth. Navorski is more at home in the airport than most of the characters are anywhere because he is home in himself. Though based on a true story, the film is more of a fantasy, even a parable. Navorski not only learns English very quickly, but he is an idealized figure. He masters the intricacies not just of eating, sleeping, laundry, and even dating without leaving the airport as well as the immigration and customs laws and even the complete schedule of arrivals and departures. He is ever-patient, wise, and steadfast, enriching the lives of everyone from a bitter janitor to a frantic would-be smuggler, and a vulnerable flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

It would be easy to make Navorski a cute guy with a sitcom accent like Latka in Taxi, and the movie almost falls into that trap with some moments of slapstick that threaten to throw off the tone of the story. But Hanks doesn't go for easy laughs and doesn't allow Navorski to be cute. He makes it work with the warmth, grace, modesty, and dignity he brings to Navorski. Zeta-Jones gives her most accessible performance so far, for once playing not a glamour goddess but a real person. Tucci's Dixon is not an unreasonable man, just a small-minded one. Spielberg may make it too much of a fairy tale, but Nathanson's rich mix of wit and sentiment culminates in a moment so moving that it blooms within you as you watch. This movie is simply lovely, with broad appeal on many levels, well worth sharing with family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of their unexpected delays and other travel adventures. They could also talk about rules and how Navorski, Dixon, and some of the other characters decide when to follow them and when they need to be broken or rewritten. Why did they chose this word for the title? Were you surprised by what Navorski wanted from America and what he did not want? What does home mean to you?

Movie details

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