|PLOTViktor Navorski, a traveler from the fictional nation of Krakozhia, arrives at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, only to discover that his passport is suddenly no longer valid. The United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia as an independent country after the outbreak of a civil war, and Viktor is not permitted to either enter the country or return home as he is now stateless. Because of this, U.S Customs and Border Protection seizes his passport and airline ticket.
With no other choice, Viktor settles in at the terminal with only his luggage and a Planters peanut can, much to the frustration of Frank Dixon, the temporary customs director of the airport. Dixon is being considered for a promotion and becomes obsessed with getting rid of Viktor. Meanwhile, Viktor befriends and assists airport employees and travelers. Among them, a flight attendant named Amelia Warren, whom he sees periodically and tries to woo, presenting himself as a building contractor who is frequently traveling. Viktor had been hired by an airport contractor and paid under the table after he impulsively remodeled a wall at a gate that was scheduled for future renovation.
One day, Dixon pulls Amelia aside and questions whether she knows Viktor's true situation. Amelia confronts Viktor at his makeshift home, where he shows her that the Planters peanut can contains a copy of the "A Great Day in Harlem" photograph. His late father was a jazz enthusiast who had discovered the famous portrait in a Hungarian newspaper in 1958, and vowed to collect the autographs of all 57 of the musicians featured on it. He died before he could get the last one, from tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. Viktor has come to New York to do so. After hearing the story, Amelia kisses Viktor.
After nine months, his friends wake Viktor with the news that the war in Krakozhia has ended. Amelia also asked her "friend"—actually a married government official with whom she had been having an affair—to get Viktor a one-day emergency visa to fulfill his dream, but Viktor is disappointed to learn she has renewed her relationship with the man during this process. Moreover, Viktor finds out that Dixon must sign the visa. Seizing the opportunity, Dixon threatens to cause trouble for Viktor's friends, most seriously by deporting janitor Gupta back to India to potentially face a charge of assaulting a police officer. Unwilling to let this happen, Viktor finally agrees to return home to Krakozhia. When Gupta learns of this, however, he runs in front of a plane as it taxies to the terminal, resulting in his deportation, effectively taking the burden off Viktor.
The delay gives Viktor enough time to go into the city. Dixon attempts to have his officers arrest Viktor, but they instead let him leave the airport. Viktor arrives in New York at the hotel where Benny Golson is performing and finally collects the last autograph. Then he gets in a taxi, telling the driver, "I am going home."
|2004Personal Rating70Rotten Critics61Rotten Audience74IMDb Rating73Combined Rating69.5|