Likewise, one isn't sure what to make of the theme of consumerism. When Viktor asks Frank what he's supposed to do in the terminal as he waits for a new visa, Frank replies curtly, "the only thing you can do: shop." Depending on one's point of view, one could either be offended by Spielberg's reduction of American culture to a vast shopping mall, or instead be appalled by the way he actually seems to embrace it. Spielberg has always seen the aesthetic beauty and emotional comfort of American suburban cultural hegemony, as displayed in the way he lovingly photographs Elliot's neighborhood in which all the houses look the same in "E.T." or the way he uses children's toys appearing to come to life to forewarn us of alien contact in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
"The Terminal" provides many laughs as well as some (perhaps unintentional) food for thought. While it won't live on in the public consciousness like the Frank Capra or Charlie Chaplin films it is inspired by, it's an entertaining couple of hours that may make you smile when you leave the theater, and will certainly provide a breath of fresh air from the typical assortment of dumb comedies and special effects extravaganzas that summer films usually offer us.