The Mosquito Coast Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 24, 2007
Definitely not for all tastes. This challenging film boasts a full committed performance from Harrison Ford, possibly his best work, with strong support by Helen Mirren and River Phoenix. Weir guides us through a complex portrait of a deeply flawed perhaps insane man's quest for what he sees as a simple life but which twists him into a demagogue imperiling his family on his fruitless journey. Tough going but a good picture.
Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2007
Harrison Ford has made one movie that lost money, this one. Which is a damn shame as it's one of his most interesting. "...(He's) the most dangerous kind of man, a know it all, who is occasionally right." Ford drags his family to South American to bring the ice (and therefore civilization). Chaos ensues.

Weir's direction is concise and tight, performances all round are fantastic. It's a shame that the failure of this drove him to the milk toast that is Dead Poets Society.

An awesome double feature with There Will Be Blood or Fitzcaraldo.
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2009
A gripping, uncompromising look at a family who follows their father (Harrison Ford) blindly into Central America, due to the father's utter disgust on how corrupted America has become - so he elects to try his luck out in the jungles where he puts his skills on display. This is a solid film, which is worth watching due to Harrison Ford's roaring, knockout performance as a man unaware of his own hypocrisy, and uncaring towards his family's feelings. Helen Mirren and River Phoenix also give very subtle, but still strong performances. Although this film has its flaws (such as the over-zealous extreme Christian missionary who chews up only five minutes of the film - five pretty bad and exaggerated minutes), the strengths of the film and the way the plot unfolds naturally (never once feeling artificial) is a thing of beauty to watch. Definitely a film I will want to revisit in a few years again.
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2010
A semi-remake of the Swiss Family Robinson, mixed with the story of a self-righteous scientist going crazy. This has an important story and lesson about independence and isolation, for that it's very effective. I really enjoyed all the performances, River Phoenix and Helen Mirren stand out along with Harrison Ford in one of his only villainous roles (but it's sure effective).
Super Reviewer
½ September 16, 2009
I believe this is Harrison Ford's best performance so far and certainly one of Peter Weir's best. It's the age old story of faith over science and how it affects one mans family and ultimately leads him into madness. It's a brilliant film. Whatever happened to Martha Plimpton though?
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2006
Harrison Ford in one of his earliest un-heroic roles as know-it-all inventor taking his family to the Central American jungle where things go bad rather soon as the eccentric father is getting more and more obsessed with his ideas and ideals, which ironically aren't better than the ones he is trying to leave behind. Ford convinces as a person who might have the right plans but can't admit mistakes or see the bigger picture, bringing his family into jeopardy. Avoiding stereotypes of other drop-out stories director Peter Weir doesn't judge his main character, aware that his actions and words speak for themselves. The combination of adventure movie and family drama works out fine, also thanks to the rest of a good cast and the good directing. Definitely worth checking out.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2007
A decent movie, I guess - conceptually original and cinematographically interesting. It's also nice to see Harrison Ford play a character not franchised into a three-movie deal, accompanied by the very talented River Phoenix and Helen Mirren. Easy to watch with decent acting and effects, but there's really nothing to get excited about here.
Super Reviewer
½ April 25, 2007
Ford's greatest performance.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2007
A box office flop, but this handsomely shot drama focusing on an obsessive idealist who drags his family into the rainforest to start a new life is intelligent and well played by Ford at his most charismatic, and the late River Phoenix.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2006
Stunning performance by Harrison Ford in this drama, but his character is so unsympathetic that it's hard to get totally involved in what happens to the family.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2012
This was just a very, very good film. I've heard a lot about it, particularly that it didn't make a lot of money at the box office because audiences didn't want to see Harrison as a potentially-dangerous anti-hero instead of as the straight good guy people came to know and love the actor as. It's really thought-provoking, and very well-shot. Peter Weir is a director whom I admire a lot and had earlier worked with Ford on "Witness", and would go on to direct films such as 'The Truman Show' and 'Master and Commander'. In this film, Ford plays a radical, somewhat crazy inventor who is tired of what he perceives as overly-commercialised, lazy American culture and uproots his entire family, including his wife (Helen Mirren) and oldest son (River Phoenix) to a remote jungle location along the Mosquito Coast of the title. There, he sets up his own town, building "civillisation" from scratch, but his extreme ideals push him to the edge and endanger his family, and he becomes blinded by his vision, ironic as that sounds. This film proves Ford has range, he plays a wild-eyed, unstable man very well and all the while you still have a shred of sympathy for him even as he pushes the limit of what's acceptable for a father to do to his family over and over again. The location filming in Belize is gorgeous and you truly get a sense that you're off the beaten track and far from the known world, as it seems. It's also one of the last film appearances of Butterfly McQueen aka Prissy from 'Gone With the Wind'. I was watching the film with my mother and she said "hey, that sounds like the silly girl from Gone with the Wind" - and it was the same actress! Helen Mirren was great as usual as the hapless (and actually nameless) wife, pulled along for the insane adventure and loyal to her husband to a fault. River Phoenix's performance was also stunning and it is a huge, huge pity that he passed away so early on; he could have had a very luminous career as he clearly was a talented actor.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2012
I'll give Ford credit for playing such a thoroughly unlikable character so well, but the film is a mess. Weir can't decide what the central conflict is supposed to be and the family is so passive through most of the story that by the time they do stand up to Ford it doesn't make any sense. By the half way point I just started thinking about early Herzog films (specifically "Fitzcarraldo", "Aguirre: The Wrath of God", and "Heart of Glass") and how much better they deal with extreme obsession.
Super Reviewer
½ May 20, 2008
Peter Weir's direction is very strong here - this bizarre, compelling story is chiselled into fine shape and brought to its full potential. Harrison Ford's theatrical, admirably brave work in the lead performance is impressive, and he is beautifully offset by the brooding presence and understated nuance of River Phoenix. Very enjoyable and satisfying film experience.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2011
Harrison Ford, disillusioned with the banalities and commercialisms of everyday American life, drags his family into the jungle to some back-to -basics living.
The story is excellent - you can tell it's based on a novel - and Ford brings completely to life a character both alluring and downright impossible
"Charlie, your father is the worst kind of pain in the neck. A know-it-all who's sometimes right .I've come to see he's a dangerous man.
You tell him that."

Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2007
Yeah this is 2 hours I will never get back. This is truly one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It starts off promosing-family escaping comercialism in the jungle,and it just spins off into this mess
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2010
Ford plays a man determined to prove himself, constantly. Each time he faces a setback he refuses to give up, but instead sees it as a blessing and keeps moving forward. Only he doesn't know when to stop and is oblivious to the effect it's having on his family.
This is a fascinating film with a towering central performance by Ford, supported ably by Mirren and a young Phoenix. One to watch!
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2008
Good movie. Harrison Ford is wonderful in his role as an inventor who drags his family to S. America to start an knew life in the jungle. The Mosquito Coast is ultimately depressing, but it's a memorable tale all the same.
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2008
The soft sounds and tranquil essence of the natural setting combined with a droll and plodding narrative make it all too easy to fall asleep during Peter Weir's 'The Mosquito Coast', a film desperate to ascend some high aspirations but hampered by a mediocre script with almost zero tension and atmosphere. Films about finding yourself usually make for insightful moments and compelling viewing, but the dreary underlying truths of 'Mosquito' are thrust upon the audience with a beating hand and monotonous voice; the conclusive resonance is little more than an imminent, predictable and entirely inevitable thud.

Allie Fox is a tired inventor sick of a consumerist America; on a spur of the moment decision he ups his family from their country home and takes them to settle in the paradise of the Mosquito Coast, in a town previously uninhabited. The group encounter a number of trials and tribulations, but none captivate or inspire; it seems a dull unfolding of events rather than an exciting journey of self-discovery.

The major problem of the narrative is the character of Allie Fox. He is a man so self-involved, so obsessed with a half-baked dream of adventure, so utterly boring in how he attempts to explain and justify his ambitions you can't help but try and block out most of his dialogue. It is usually the mark of a well constructed persona that the audience respond to them, but I felt nothing for Allie; I didn't hate, like or admire him, he just bored me. Harrison Ford plays the role fantastically, but it doesn't make the character - or the film - any more likeable or less tiresome.

Helen Mirren plays Allie's strangely passive wife, and I wish she contributed more to the emotional crux of the story; annoyingly, even Ford only refers to her as 'Mother'. Phoenix is the son providing the narration, but he is too shoved to the sidelines; if it is his recount of their tale, why did Weir not use the character more in highlighting the boy's change in feeling towards the degenerative father?

But if there is something to be praised, it is the direction. Weir holds the stuffy screenplay together somehow, and while 'The Mosquito Coast' is far too long the director makes the extended epilogue seem part of the same story. Issues of religion and race are touched upon quite spiritedly, but alas, the focus forever remains of Allie. It's unfortunate to watch all this potential dissipate into a vacuum of disinterest.

I think in my rating, I am being generous. But you witness these actors putting in their all, know Weir is blameless in how the screenplay fans out the story, and all things considered an adequate picture is made, so I admire their efforts. Plus there is the added benefit of some beautiful scenery. Lush greens, flowing waters, misty mountain me, you'll find the exotic backdrop is more worthy of your time than the lifeless and muddled drama of 'The Mosquito Coast'.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2007
pretty good...
½ January 22, 2015
I usually like all of Peter Weir's films, but this is one flop I'm sorry to admit, the biggest issue is how unlikable Ford is in the lead, I hated him, I didn't agree or even understand his issues with America, they're very vague, and he puts his family through all this danger and risk, which is the other issue, they never question him! there's not one scene of them discussing this stupid plan to live in the middle of fucking nowhere and make ice, it only gets worse as the movie goes on and he does more and more irritating things, there is some nice locations and music, weir's films always look good for sure, but sadly this was not up to his usual standard
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