So once again we have survived.

The Terminal

tn_terminalspielbergI was sort of dreading THE TERMINAL, because I’d heard only bad things, and because I was pretty sure it wouldn’t stand up to SCHINDLER, AMISTAD and PRIVATE RYAN all in a row. Well, it’s not something a consider a good movie. It’s a hacky comedy script that squeezes cute bullshit out of a great real life premise.

Tom Hanks plays Victor, who arrives at JFK International Airport in New York from a fictional former Soviet republic just as a coup has happened back home. Because his country no longer exists he’s stuck in a customs limbo – he can’t go back home, but he can’t go into the city either, so the customs guy in charge (Stanley Tucci) tells him he’ll have to wait in the International Something Something Lounge, that food court/mall type part of the airport, until things are straightened out tomorrow or so. It ends up being longer.

mp_terminalBut optimistic Victor – who adorably doesn’t understand anything they say and keeps shaking their hands and thanking them – does what he’s told. Next thing you know he’s living in the airport for months, surviving off of saltines and mustard, cleaning himself with the restroom sink. It’s all played for smiles, so it’s not a harrowing tale of survival. The terminal is treated as a fantasy world where he can make friends, get a job, teach himself English, bring people together and fall in love with Catherine Zeta Jones without ever being hassled by security for living there. Or for remodeling the place. (Looks like he was some kind of carpenter or something back home.) And nobody ever tries to, like, get him help straightening out this situation.

So tonally it’s alot different from EMPIRE OF THE SUN, but I definitely noticed some parallels. He’s an innocent man with a complex citizenship, a war traps him in a place where he must learn to survive, a makeshift micro-civilization. He makes allegiances, plays poker, finds a way to get food, stares out at the border, tempted to make a run for it, the authorities waiting to pounce on him if he does. He’s even surrounded by airplanes, right? But isn’t excited about them. No “Cadillac of the sky!”

Remember how Jamie in EMPIRE OF THE SUN carried around a box with his important items in it? For Victor it’s a peanut tin. It has a whole backstory to it that’s kind of sweet but also kind of fill-in-the-blanks what-quirky-thing-could-this-guy-care-about screenwritery.

Hanks is good, and it’s nice to see him trying something closer to a straight comedy at this late date. He hasn’t done too many of those since he got into Oscar collecting. But it’s weird seeing regular-Tom-Hanks with that accent. It’s just such a familiar All-American face, it’s hard to accept him as foreign without some kind of different look. Maybe they shoulda gave him a Borat mustache.

Spielberg also acquits himself well on a technical level. It’s all filmed on what I guess is a huge set, and he manages to keep it visually energetic in that confined space. I don’t know what the real lounge looks like, but I hope there’s a Cinnabon. If this ever happened to me I would use that sugar goo to survive. On the set at least there is a very prominent Borders store. That chain is out of business now but it’s cool that it existed then, because get it, borders?

Anyway it doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as you’d think it would. He makes something more coherent out of it than HOOK. But he shouldn’t have used this script in my opinion. That’s the problem. It’s okay that it’s fantasy, but it should be more plausible fantasy. What happened to the real guy? Must not’ve been much since they made up all this bullshit for the movie version.

(okay, I looked it up, the real guy was an Iranian who lived in a French airport for 17 years after getting his passport stolen. Doesn’t say anything about Catherine Zeta-Jones.)

The weirdest part is the two romances. Okay, so he keeps running into Zeta Jones ’cause she’s a flight attendant, and she’s having problems with men, I’m willing to buy that she sees something in him. Fine. But is a guy in that situation really not gonna explain it to her? And when she finds out he lives in the airport and she calls him a liar why can’t he explain it then? Look lady, my country no longer exists! I don’t know if my family is alive. I’m living off saltines in a god damn food court, sleeping on plastic chairs, bathing in a public restroom sink, ’cause your government can’t get their shit together. And you’re gonna yell at me?

It started to infuriate me. He’s just a foreigner, not a Forrest Gump. Isn’t he? I don’t understand why he can’t behave like a grown adult.

It’s also got that dreaded lazy screenwriting approach of giving each character one quirk that’s supposed to make them interesting. Jones is interested in Napoleon, so every time they meet they gotta compare something to some fact about Napoleon. Diego Luna’s character finds out that Zoe Saldana’s character is a Trekkie (weird coindcidence, huh?) so that little non-detailed-factoid is the key to her heart. No, not wooing her with an elaborate Klingon mating ritual, just telling her he also likes Star Trek. It’s a love connection! She’s apparently never met anybody else interested in that obscure thing that almost nobody has ever heard of, so it’s impressive to her.

Of all the ridiculous things that happen in this I might’ve had the most problem with their romance. He’s her secret admirer. Their interaction is just that he gets Victor to ask her questions. Then he gives her a ring and she says yes! I think I’m supposed to get swept up in the joy of the spontaneous airport wedding, but I was still wondering what her problem was, marrying a complete stranger just ’cause he spied on her from the janitorial department. I’m concerned about both of these people.

Maybe all this would be more acceptable if grounded in reality by a plausible conflict. Tucci is good at playing a prick, but I never believed this particular prick. He’s an asshole from the very beginning, almost proud to explain to Victor that his homeland is at war and his trip is cancelled and he’s a prisoner. And if it really bothers him so much to have Victor there I can’t believe there’s not somebody he can call or fax or bring in that can do something. Even an asshole would try to move the process along just to get him out of his hair. Especially an asshole. He would be calling up everybody he knows chewing them out, wouldn’t he?

The story is credited to Andrew Niccol (THE TRUMAN SHOW) and Sacha Gervasi (director of ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL), the screenplay to Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson. Nathanson also wrote CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL for Spielberg, but I recognize his name from watching the RUSH HOUR movies. He did parts 2 and 3, as well as SPEED 2. I mean look, I don’t know who to blame, but as much as Chris Tucker makes me laugh in the RUSH HOURs I do feel like the scripts got some pretty hackneyed jokes and cliches in them. They might be the work of the type of writer who would make it a major plot point that a character is a “Trekkie,” because they saw on TV that that is a thing that there is, and then they don’t go any deeper than that to make it seem like a real person or like they have met a real person before.

Shit, it’s even worse than the reference humor that’s so prevalent now. At least the reference humor is by people that might know what they’re talking about. This is dumb people reference humor, for people who’s idea of references is, like, New Jersey is stinky, Sean Penn punches photographers, Ronald Reagan says “well” alot. I guess it goes well with the other corny shtick like crashing into windows, going into the women’s restroom on accident and all that. (because he’s foreign)

The most impressive thing about THE TERMINAL is that Spielberg doesn’t have too many duds like this. But I think I liked it better than HOOK.

And I’m looking forward to TERMINAL 2: JUDGMENT DAY.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 1:45 pm and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

42 Responses to “The Terminal”

  1. I saw this in theaters and no, it’s definitively not a great movie, it’s a very light comedy and feels very below Spielberg’s talents

    but ya know, it’s not terrible (though I don’t really care whether this one ever makes it to blu ray or not)

    I mean, this came out in 2004, do you guys remember all the shit that was coming out around 2003/2004? granted Hollywood still makes plenty of shitty movies these days of course, but it was around that time when Hollywood really started to hit the skids in my opinion (and for proof, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake or example, which came out in the 2003, was the one that kick started the trend of remaking every horror movie ever)

    I think back to movies like Bringing Down The House or Cheaper By The Dozen (both Steven Martin movies not coincidentally) or My Boss’s Daughter and shudder, The Terminal is fucking comedy GOLD compared that kind of shit

    still the irony is that 2003/2004 also gave us Kill Bill vol 1 and 2, which are some of the coolest movies of the whole 2000’s

  2. and 2004 in particular was generally a terrible year for movies, I can only think of a couple of good ones off the top of my head (The Incredibles and Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind being two)

  3. I was about to start defending this (it’s not that bad, kinda amusing, I guess, if you’re in the right mood, etc.) but then I realized that I don’t remember a single thing about it, so I don’t really have the evidence to support that notion. Why do I seem to have a vague recollection of kind of liking it? No idea. I think I enjoyed the big airport set. I’m not sure if a movie actually happened on it, but it was cool that they had their own escalators and shit.

  4. I’ll copy & paste my prematurely ejaculated TERMINAL criticism from the recent HOOK thread, sorry:

    I enjoyed THE TERMINAL okay, especially the premise of a country’s collapse during a guy’s flight & his unique citizenship limbo status, but about an hour after I watched it I had a disturbing thought — “Spielberg really has no idea how women think, does he? He has no concept of how women speak or how real women react in social situations or how this should be filmed. Did that hot chick for real get married to that ugly nerd? (spoiler) How did that happen? Yuck.”

    So I talked/thought myself into ambivalence toward THE TERMINAL, and I’m afraid to revisit it for fear of embarrassment & repulsion at its hokiness. But it’s been years, so I don’t even know if I’m remembering it correctly at all.

    The Stanley Tucci character is an absurd asshole, but I remember laughing when he mumbles that John Terminal is making more money per hour.

    I don’t know, maybe there’s more going on with the script & screenplay (partly from the brilliant mind behind the RUSH HOUR sequels) than we give it credit for, like how Tom Hanks running a half-honest scam for 25 cents at a time and how an undocumented non-citizen literally rebuilding airport infrastructure is symbolic of the immigrant experience in a capitalistic society, and Borders, etc.. Maybe. But the female characters are still insultingly simplistic. And most of the males, too, I guess.

    Now, the massacre sequence in the Call of Duty:Modern Warfare videogame a year or 2 back, that was some damn fine airport cinematism.

  5. I liked this movie more than most. I just enjoy the low-key, almost shaggy dog nature of the story and the way it plays out. There’s a warmth to this movie, a belief in communities and people that feels so genuine and out-of-step with the rest of the world, that I find myself willing to let some of the narrative slip-up’s pointed out here slide by.

  6. “And when she finds out he lives in the airport and she calls him a liar why can’t he explain it then? Look lady, my country no longer exists! I don’t know if my family is alive.”
    Yeah, that brings up a problem I have…Victor’s background isn’t really fleshed out at all. Other than the stuff about his father and his implied job(which he seems to have done well enough out of if he can afford to fly to New York just for what he eventually does), we know jack shit about him. Given his age and how nice of a guy he is, the apparent lack of a wife and kids back home seems odd too.
    As for the Star Trek thing, I don’t remember that even being used by the janitor to woo Saldana. She just shows up at the end in a Starfleet uniform, if I recall correctly.
    Also if that guy he helps get medicine can’t speak english, how did he know “Goat”?
    And you know, if a cop was hassling ME for protection money, I’d maybe try reporting him to his superiors first, before jumping straight to the “stab him to death” option.
    Despite this, I like THE TERMINAL okay as a bit of light fluff, but it’s definitely not really something needing Spielberg’s hand.

  7. I have always avoided this one since the premise alone seemed liked a cheesy Rom-com Ashton Kutcher & Katherine Heigl vehicle. Even if the movie is not offensively bad it is a waste of one of greatest directors and actors of our time. I do admit to catching some of it on HBO at some point and watching about only enough of it for my fears to be validated.

  8. I will second Brendan. This is probably one of the few Spielberg films of the last decade that I enjoyed. As schticky as it might be, I love the fact that it is not plot driven per se and I bought into the shitty situation in which Hanks character found himself in.

    Too many times these days, it feels like people want a cookie cutter/plot driven screenplay. I know there is not a traditional movie conflict in the Terminal, the way movie logic defines conflict, but there is conflict of the sort that people find in everyday life. Some people are just pricks and the world keeps spinning. Some people fall in love for the darndest reasons and the world keeps spinning.

    Movies and especially those directed by Spielberg traditionally are so plot driven that I do not feel like there is any room for the characters or actors to breathe. His films are such hyper-driven reflections of a filtered reality that I often find myself distanced because of the story telling choices. Not so in this case.

    I recently watched War Horse and if you want to talk about a horrible fucking script – that one almost made me want to punch the bearded one in the face during several different scenes and the cuts in between.

    I am all for the manipulative qualities of cinema, but I hate it when it feels so contrived. The Terminal is one of Spielberg’s few that does not feel contrived, regardless of the technical merit. I guess that is why so many people dislike it, but I think it’s part of the charm. It’s not a perfect movie, but I kinda love it.

    It’s funny how one guy’s hate is another guy’s love. I definitely come down on the side of I prefer when Spielberg chooses humanity over contrivance.

  9. Yeah, I’m with you, Vern–bad script. It’s amazing how watchable it still is, though. Spielberg really can spin almost any straw into, if not always gold, at least better straw….

    Jeff Nathanson also worked on Speed 2: Cruise Control and wrote and directed a truly awful film called The Last Shot. Given his track record, I fail to understand how he was one of Steven Spielberg’s supposedly elite team of screenwriters for a while. I guess he just amused Spielberg during writing meetings or something.

  10. The Terminal has a better script then War Horse?

    MDM, are you on LSD?

  11. JD – maybe Nathanson made Spielberg laugh?

    Vern – if you’re ever bored, go google up Chris Columbus’ INDY IV script that would’ve apparently taken place in Africa and something to do with the Monkey Prince or whatever. Only thing I remember about it (read it long time ago) really was two things: (1) opening up with Indy fishing. Not blowing shit up or killing Nazis, but fishing. (2) action sequence with him riding a rhino.

    Oh wait, no need to google!

    http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/INDIANA_JONES_4_2.html

  12. gee, I have no idea why War Horse is getting so much hate

    RRA – I’ve been meaning to read that script myself, I actually read the opening part where Indy fights a ghost or whatever in a castle a while back, I need to read the rest

  13. So I wrote this long post last night about great memories associated with SPR and seeing it in the theatre with my dad as a daddy/daughter bonding experience only to come to the realization that the post a comment button disappears for me after a certain amount of posts in a topic. Fuck you, Blackberry, and fuck me for being too lazy and/or busy to retype it on my laptop. Anyways…

    I like this movie. Sure, the romances bug me in the same way that they bug most of you, although not as much since it doesn’t end with Victor getting the bland and shallow girl, but there are so many other fun, interesting, or warm moments that I can’t help but enjoy it. The goat medicine scene is the one I would put out there as an example of why I like it and don’t think of it as Spielberg slumming it. (I just wish the movie had been more about that kind of storyline.) Plus, this is another film I caught with my dad. In fact, we’d been to most of the recent Spielbergs together over the years, including Catch Me If You Can, a movie that I consider as one of the Bearded One’s bests. (Please review.)

    And you have to admit that Kumar Pallana is a welcome addition to any movie. He was one of my favorite parts of The Royal Tenenbaums.

  14. I didn’t like this movie very much. I didn’t even know it was Spielberg until now…which kind of makes me like it less.

    And goddamn Borders. Lost my job as a book/coffee pusher when the LA branch closed. Better things the future held though…

  15. This is film making at it’s worst. Someone reads a newspaper article and gets an idea. But hey, let’s make up a country instead and have the guy walk like he’s just shat his pants and talk like he’s a visiting cousin in Balky and Larry! Because those Eastern Europeans are damn funny man!

  16. Years ago I actually saw the real life stranded guy, Mehran Karimi Nasseri, in de Gaulle airport. His clothes were soiled and he was emaciated. They definitely didn’t let him near the Orange Julius. He had more in common with Newt in ALIENS than Tom Hanks in this movie.

    Also, isn’t every girl crazy about a STAR TREK fan? I heard that somewhere. And all those kids at Woodstock dressed like Bowzer from Sha Na Na. They didn’t care about Hendrix or The Who.

    Griff: 2004 might have been a lousy year for movies, but it was also the year ETERNAL SUNSHINE came out. And KILL BILL 2, HERO, BOURNE SUPREMACY and Mouth Award Winner MEAN GIRLS. Also that INCREDIBLES thing all the nerds talk about. So it wasn’t a wash.

  17. I had my say on this in the COLLATERAL review. Griff’s opinion on Hollywood might be accurate, but his opinion on the quality of 2003-2004 cinema is dubious, or he hasn’t seen what I’ve seen.

    Best 2004 movies, in approximate order:

    THE INCREDIBLES

    SPARTAN
    COLLATERAL
    THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
    LA MALA EDUCACION (BAD EDUCATION)
    BORN TO FIGHT
    MEAN GIRLS
    MOOLADE
    ETERNAL KATE WINSLET WITH BLUE HAIR
    THE NOTEBOOK
    BEFORE SUNSET
    ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY
    BORN INTO BROTHELS
    OSAMA
    DOGVILLE
    STANDER
    13 GOING ON 30
    THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD
    THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS
    HOTEL RWANDA
    TROY
    GREENDALE
    FAHRENHEIT 9/11
    DODGEBALL
    SHAUN OF THE DEAD
    PRIMER
    HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
    SAW
    BEYOND THE SEA
    MILLION DOLLAR BABY
    HERO
    UNDERTOW
    THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Joel Schumacher’s underrated version)
    THE BOURNE SUPREMACY
    KILL BILL 2 (Sorry, I love Volume One, lukewarm on #2.)

    I’ve even come to like THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK a lot in the past couple years, though I scoffed at its cheesiness & PG-13ness when it was first released.

    I still need to see WALKING TALL and IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL and SHAOLIN SOCCER and MARIA FULL OF GRACE and TAE GUK GI and GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE and THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES and Al Pacino *is* THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. And STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION.

  18. Mouth – see SHAOLIN SOCCER as soon as you can. It’s fantastic.

  19. Jesus, Mouth, I agree with your list. Even 13 GOING ON 30.

  20. I remember nothing about this movie except the feeling it would have been okay had Catherine Zeta Jones was a human being and not some terrible monster.

    I think I liked the Ladykillers remake more. I don’t know why I always associate those movies together, though.

  21. Oops, the website I checked said SHAOLIN SOCCER is a 2004 release (re-release?), but now I see it was a 2001 movie. Somewhat irrelevant, but I hate to deliberately let a faux pas stand uncorrected.

    Top of the queue anyway. It better not suck, karlos.

  22. This is a pretty dumb movie, but you gotta give Spielberg and Hanks some credit for making it almost tolerable. In the end, the script is just a little too precious to be saved, but Hanks is genuinely likeable and Spielberg makes the most out of his fairy tale sensibilities so that even if it seems contrived, the world is somewhat believable and the tone is consistent. Not a film I would ever revisit, but not exactly a colossal embarrassment either. For my money, HOOK is much less enjoyable.

    Mouth — you really should also see IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL. It’s a pretty amazing and mysterious story, told very well. Also it makes excellent use of Tom Wait’s “Innocent when you Dream” from Frank’s Wild Years, and I support that.

  23. one guy from andromeda

    February 2nd, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    The problem with Spielberg in general is that he has a terrible sense of humor. Genius film-maker, no doubt, but hindered by his notion of what is funny. When he really restrains himself like in Munich (not too many laughs in that one) he’s brilliant, but as soon as he gets jokey everything falls apart (jetpack hamburgers, the quicksand scene in Indy IV and so on).

  24. “This is probably one of the few Spielberg films of the last decade that I enjoyed. ”

    Have people actually not seen Catch Me If You Can or do you really, seriously not think it is good.

    Come on, it’s Spielberg’s autobiography. It’s his only autocritical work. It is seriously good stuff, I don’t understand humans.

  25. Catch Me If You Can was indeed great

    and guys, I’m not saying there weren’t great movies made in 2003/2004, there’s at least a couple of good movies every year, I’m just saying taken as a whole it was a generally weak period for movies and the start of a lot of bad trends

    and the only movies from that period that I’ve felt compelled to watch again in the last few years have been the Kill Bills

    by the way, did I ever mention that Kill Bill was in fact the first Tarantino movie I ever saw? and it knocked me on my ass

  26. I’m with you on that one, renfield. It’s a wonderful film. I haven’t seen it in a few years, though. That movie made me respect DiCaprio as an actor and realize the performances in Basketball Diaries and Gilbert Grape were not flukes.

    And I love Tom Hanks. Could we have a Hanks-a-thon? You have to be pretty bad ass to go through film shoots like Apollo 13 and Cast Away or have the balls to wear hair like in The DaVinci Code. (If that hair fought with Cage’s hair from Con Air, which would win? I think Cage’s but only because it was in prison.)

    And Mouth, see Maria Full of Grace.

  27. Mouth:

    TROY
    MILLION DOLLAR BABY
    THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

    Explain yourself motherfucker.

  28. (while you are explaining I will add to the list:)

    Harry Potter 3 by Alfonso Children of Fucking Men Cuaron
    Hellboy
    H&K go to WC
    Izo
    KUNG FU HUSTLE
    Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou
    Suspect Zero
    Sideways
    Three…Extremes

    and some people liked Team America and I Heart Huckabees. and Dawn of the Dead?

  29. I think Troy was an ok movie, it was kind of cool to see a realistic feeling depiction of ancient Greece

    never saw Million Dollar Boobies or Phantom of the Opera however

  30. Griff I commented on your blog but it says “awaiting moderation”. You gonna moderate me bitch?

  31. shucks, sometimes I forget I even have that blog

    don’t worry, I’ll get on that

  32. and renfield, thank you so much for reading it, it’s nice to know that at least one person is reading

    I’ll have a new review up soon

  33. Alright, renfield, DAWN OF THE DEAD was an oversight; that should be right above TROY. And I might be tempted to add 3…EXTREMES to the tail end of my list, just barely, at least for DUMPLINGS & the impressive visuals of the piano feature; it is an interesting triple-movie, not great.

    I feel like an idiot for not yet having seen IZO, especially after mrqe’ing it and discovering the always entertaining Ruthless treatment: http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/8996/izo/
    and reading the Netflix summary that ends with “. . .the swordsman seeks his vengeance the only way he knows how — by killing every human that he encounters.”

    Other than that, my list is definitive & absolute, renfield. Those other movies you listed do nothing for me, and I’ve never seen any HARRY POTTER. In all of your other proposed additions, the jokes aren’t funny and the drama falls flat.

    TEAM AMERICA is somehow a great movie in the abstract, a great addition to our cultural library of satire & puppet humor, but the act of sitting down & watching the whole thing is a bit of a boring slog, in my experience. Maybe it’ll improve someday when I don’t have to pee in a cup regularly.

    TROY’s drama & romance becomes silliness on repeat viewings, so it doesn’t all hold up, except for about 3 truly *great* action scenes and a few badass dialogue moments, and MILLION DOLLAR BABY is not a movie I care to rewatch, but I don’t hold that against these movies too much. The first viewings were highly entertaining & powerful, therefore they stand.

    And I like Schumacher’s PHANTOM musical adaptation. Straightforward, good sets, clean attractive cast, cheesy karaokeable melodies, shadowy cinematography — That’s all the explaining you’ll get, motherfucker.

    I know a lot of respected critics love SIDEWAYS, but I find it merely okay-good in parts, mediocre in other parts, and annoying & disgusting in other parts.

    LIFE AQUATIC can go fuck itself.

  34. Mouth, cheers for the line-item attention.

    I’m comfortable with our disagreements. But I will continue to harangue nonetheless for my own rhetorical pleasure.

    Although you are incorrect about all the jokes in Harold and Kumar 1 falling flat on their face. For example, having not seen previews but having known that it was the screenwriters of Dude Where’s My Car, I naturally was fooled by the opening fakeout where they pretend Ethan Embry and dickface are gonna be the main characters and it’s going to be another fratromp a la Old School or Road Trip or some shit. This is a really good extratextual joke, one that is actually surprising and self-examining and not just annoying (like Julia Roberts looking like Julia Roberts in Oceans 12).

    The obnoxious Ryan Reynolds delivers a once-in-a-lifetime alleged ad lib by turning the line “Marijuana? But why?” into “Marijuana…………………………………………………………………………………………………
    …………………………………………………………………………………….. but why?” This too was pretty funny but I can’t defend it on the same level as the previous joke.

    Let’s see…he wore a shirt that said “I love Bush, the pussy not the president”. It was funny, refreshing, and hopeful to see a casual declaration that hating Bush was cool in pop culture in 2004. (Note that I almost imdb’d the release date of the movie just now….then I remembered what this was all about!)

    Kumar’s fantasy of having a sexual relationship with a giant bag of weed wasn’t funny in and of itself, but the fact that the fantasy included him having an argument in which he acts abusive towards it and then comforts it in some bullshit alpha-male Tony Soprano fashion was just unspeakably clever. Especially because of this detail: it’s all about Kumar avoiding his responsibility of going to med school and fulfilling dad’s expectations, and the closest this movie will give you to him realizing he should be responsible is that in this fantasy this abuse occurred while he was clearly slaving away over med school books. I’m not making this shit up, this is really in the movie. K knows deep down that he’s going to get his shit together but nowhere in this movie is there any condescending soul searching comedy destroying bullshit like, i dunno, the end of Hangover 2. (what the fuck was that).

    Other stuff is pretty stupid, but has it’s undeniable charm. The fact that the backwoods rapist dude was played by Christopher Meloni. The fact that the two white kids are in a parallel movie where they are trying to get to a different fast food restaurant and it occasionally intersects with H&K’s. Other stuff is just stupid like “battleshits” and the cheetah.

    Or how about, not so stupid, but the fact that this was like the first movie of its generation that was open about stuff like that Bush was a pile of shit and we live in a back ass nation full of racist cops and other bigots. And came off as relaxed and un-PC about it, not preachy or petulant. The fat, black son of two gay fathers boasting about his large penis as a wistful afterthought. So you were wrong about this one, but everything else let’s just agree to disagree okay? >:0

  35. renfield – no offense, but Bush bashing was very prevalent in media back then, H&K was not the only or first to do so, that was the year of Fahrenheit 9/11 remember?

    pretty much everyone who was not already a die hard Republican was required to hate Bush back then (sort of like how every Republican is required by law these days to hate Obama), heck I even remember a video game show I used to watch called X-Play had plenty of anti-Bush humor in it too

    this is by no means meant to be a defense of Bush or anything, but I have learned that at any given time, one half of the country is going to despise the President, no matter who he is

  36. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 3rd, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Mouth – where did you get that list?

    Seriously, where the heck did you get it? The only list I could find approximating that was for 2011 and was on Wikipedia. It was so badly laid-out that it took me literally over an hour to slog through it and work out what I’d seen and what I hadn’t. And even then it missed out a few films that maybe got released in the UK before the US, or after the US, or whatever.

    Oh, and I liked Harold and Kumar #1 (and #2, haven’t seen #3 yet). I wished it had less fart / shitting jokes, it didn’t need them. The grown-up humour carried the film easily.

  37. Paul: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/index2004.php

    Still not a perfect web resource, as it posts re-releases (I missed a chance to see UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG on the big screen?! Oh, not really; it only played on 1-2 screens.) and doesn’t clarify the different countries’ release dates, but that’s easily cross-referenced with IMDB.

    It’s the best, most thorough single such list I’ve found for the different years.

  38. renfield — 100% with ya on HAROLD AND KUMAR. It’s only about 50% clever, but the clever bits are often not just ingenious but somewhat prescient. Our two protagonists are somewhat unique in American cinema in the way they are constantly dealing with other people’s expectations — expectations of race, of progress, stereotype, and, interestingly, narrative — when all they really want to do is get high. And Cho and Penn are winning enough to carry you through any “battleshits” moments (though riding the cheetah was genius.) There’s a million little moments of greatness in there, but one I’d like to point out in particular is when H & K steal the Extreme Sports Punks’ giant SUV, and one of them exclaims, “that is SO not extreme!” to which their leader replies “I know that, Extreme Sports Punk #1!”

    tacitly acknowledging the character’s completely one-dimentional nature is just one of the many services the films provide. Also, they deserve credit for reintroducing the world to the glory of NPH.

  39. I hated H&K AT GUANTANAMO BAY or whatever it was called but the original is most definitely a classic. I still have to see part 3. I hope that the christmas theme helped inspired a far more balanced and way funnier movie than the second. Similar to what happened with the NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION franchise.

  40. “H&K was not the only or first to do so, that was the year of Fahrenheit 9/11 remember?”

    It’s true that about half the nation openly hated Bush from the getgo. I dunno, I guess I want to draw a distinction between Farenheight 9/11 … when it came out even liberals felt the need to apologize for it, you know? All his little sensationalist editing techniques, the dead soldier’s mom basically repudiating her role in the film.

    The whole point is in Harold and Kumar is that it doesn’t act like its a point that needs to be proven, it’s just part of the ambiance and casual truth of the movie’s reality.

    On that note, I really hated the sequel, for me it somehow totally abandoned everything that was special about the original. Pretty identical to a Hangover type movie. The third is rumored to be a bit better but still no White Castle.

  41. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 3rd, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Mouth – thanks.

    Renfield – I liked both films, and I actually saw the sequel first.

  42. I liked the second H&K and hated the third

    so if you didn’t like the second H&K I don’t think you’ll like the third either

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