6.6/10
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102 user 31 critic

The Mosquito Coast (1986)

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An inventor spurns his city life to move his family into the jungles of Central America to make a utopia.

Director:

Peter Weir

Writers:

Paul Theroux (novel), Paul Schrader (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Harrison Ford ... Allie Fox
Helen Mirren ... Mother
River Phoenix ... Charlie
Jadrien Steele Jadrien Steele ... Jerry
Hilary Gordon Hilary Gordon ... April
Rebecca Gordon Rebecca Gordon ... Clover
Jason Alexander ... Clerk
Dick O'Neill ... Mr. Polski
Alice Heffernan-Sneed Alice Heffernan-Sneed ... Mrs. Polski (as Alice Sneed)
Tiger Haynes Tiger Haynes ... Mr. Semper
William Newman ... Captain Smalls
Andre Gregory ... Reverend Spellgood
Melanie Boland Melanie Boland ... Mrs. Spellgood
Martha Plimpton ... Emily Spellgood
Raymond Clare Raymond Clare ... Convert 1
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Storyline

An eccentric and dogmatic inventor sells his house and takes his family to Central America to build a utopia in the middle of the jungle. Conflicts with his family, a local preacher and with nature are only small obstacles to his obsession. Based upon a Paul Theroux novel. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Allie Fox followed his dream to the Mosquito Coast. He planned a paradise. He created a Hell. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

26 November 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mosquito Coast See more »

Filming Locations:

Baltimore, Maryland, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$14,302,779
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Second and final [to date, July 2015] collaboration of actor Harrison Ford and director Peter Weir. The first had been Witness (1985) which had been made and released the previous year. Weir also made two films with actor Mel Gibson which were Gallipoli (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Ford and Gibson later both appeared in The Expendables 3 (2014) but shared no screen time together. See more »

Goofs

While Allie Fox and his family are being lashed by violent winds and near horizontal rain during a hurricane a couple of palm trees in the background are standing perfectly still. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Charlie: My father was an inventor, a genius with anything mechanical. Nine patents, six pending. He dropped out of Harvard, "to get an education", he said. I grew up with the belief that the world belonged to him, and that everything he said was true.
Allie Fox: Look around ya, how did America get this way? Land of promise, land of opportunity. Give us the wretched refuse of your teeming shores. Have a Coke. Watch TV.
Charlie: Have a nice day.
Allie Fox: Go on welfare. Get free money. Turn to crime - crime pays in this ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Chuluya Mama
Performed by The Larumbati Group
See more »

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User Reviews

wandering aimlessly upstream
20 April 1999 | by MrsRainbowSee all my reviews

The Mosquito Coast is an odd film. It attempts to talk about issues which are important and which few films address, fails to communicate them clearly, yet isn't sucked into the maelstrom of moralizing and sententiousness that films like this almost inevitably enter. Instead, it occupies some sort of odd middle ground of ambiguity and murkiness. One gets the feeling that the film is a lot like the Fox family: they know they're going upstream but they have no specific destination, and some of them really aren't sure why they're going there in the first place.

I felt from the very beginning that the film failed to define its ideals or set a sense of clear direction. Harrison Ford, in a performance which I found unconvincing (perhaps because of the inability of the film to articulate what motivated him), rambles on about everything from the Japanese to nuclear war. There's a large difference between subtlety, i.e. not spelling things out for the viewer, and incoherence. This was incoherent. We know that he's unhappy with America, but I don't know what he's really looking for, what motivates him, etc.. Maybe he doesn't know. But if that's the case, it should be made clear.

A good example of how this plays out is his attempt to bring ice to the "noble savages." Why does he do this? Because "ice is civilization." But why does he want to bring them civilization? It seemed to me that civilization was something he was having a lot of problems with. I assume that the novel explained this more clearly and the film failed to translate properly. He of course stated earlier in the film that the savages would probably think ice a sort of jewel. So? Why does this matter? Is he looking for lost innocence?

Then later in the film "Mother" says she wishes to go to Mr. Haddy's place. He responds "And live like savages?" I can only assume that he wishes to establish some sort of elementary civilization where a small community lives in peace and harmony. Or perhaps he's just looking to withdraw from everyone, as his spurning of Mr. Haddy's gifts would show. Also, a possible literary reference is the name of their craft, Victory, which is the name of a very dull Joseph Conrad novel about a man who withdraws from life and goes to live on an island. Extreme misanthropy? Unlikely.

A possible light at the end is his talk about man not being made to walk upright. Is he looking for some sort of return to primal existence? But then why invent air conditioning in Geronimo? It all adds up to a very disorganized mess, both in Mr. Fox's head, and on screen. The Mosquito Coast is like a puzzle that still has all the pieces, but rather than fit them together, Weir just threw them all in the box and let us look at them.


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