Terminal USA Review

"Oh my god, this is too weird."

There’s no easy way to describe Terminal USA. Sure, it fits the “punk rock, soap opera comedy” that it’s often credited as, but it’s really much, much more than that. It’s a masterpiece, a train wreck, a delight and a nightmare all in one.

Following the misdeeds of one seriously messed-up Japanese-American family, director Jon Moritsugu (Mod Fuck Explosion) expertly flips the image of the model-minority on its head: Drug-abusing, promiscuous and violent, this family bears no resemblance to the “typical” Asian American family white America has come to expect. Even Marvin, the studious protractor-wielding prodigy of the family (an obvious symbol for the Asian American stereotype) has a dirty secret he’s keeping. Moritsugu explores the family’s vices through separate but overlapping storylines before the film finally builds to a feverish climax.

Aside from exploring issues like discrimination and drug abuse, Terminal USA is magnificently strange in content and in presentation. For starters, the script, joyfully blunt and occasionally downright filthy, has some tremendous one-liners. Normally I would put one here, but there are simply too many gems to choose from to pick just one. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.

I’m not going to lie, though—this film isn’t for everyone. Among cinephiles, its ranking seems tied between “work of genius” and “piece of crap.” Terminal USA unquestionably flies in the face of mainstream cinema, but it does so with inexhaustible energy and unique charm. But it’s this raw approach to storytelling that makes Terminal USA so strangely addictive. There’s a reason it’s a cult classic.

Originally released in 1993, Terminal USA screens at the Jean Cocteau Cinema as a part of a fundraiser for Moritsugu’s upcoming film, Numbskull Revolution, which shoots in Santa Fe and Marfa, Texas, this summer. Come out and support New Mexico film and Moritsugu, “The King of Cult Cinema.” You won’t want to miss it.


+Plenty of WTF, laugh-out-loud moments to keep you smiling
-Everything about Tom Sawyer the Lawyer. *Shudder*

Terminal USA Screening
8:30 pm Tuesday June 27
Jean Cocteau Cinema, 418 Montezuma St., 466-5528

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