#5 The Mosquito Coast
Take one part Swiss Family Robinson, one part Moby Dick, and one part Indiana Jones and blend thoroughly. Put them into the oven and bake for approximately 2 hours, and you get The Mosquito Coast. Harrison Ford plays a tireless and gifted inventor who is fed up with the “selling out” of his homeland, America. He loads up the family, leaving the dishes in the sink, and heads for the Mosquito Coast, where he plans to bring “proper civilization” to the unspoiled natives in the form of ice. He buys a small village in the south american jungle and sets about starting his own Robison Crusoe-esqe paradise, teaching the natives about the evils of corrupt society, all the while building a village that will provide all the creature comforts of home without the corporate trappings of capitalism. Quickly making enemies with the local missionaries, it becomes clear that he is a man focused on self empowerment.
Without giving too much away, let’s just say that his enthusiasm for the family’s new way of life turns into outright obsession, and eventually evolves into a kind depraved and outright madness that very nearly destroys his family. What scares me most about the movie is how easy I find it to identify with Ford’s character in the first half of the movie. I guess it goes to show that there’s a fine line between genius and madness. I think I’ll just hang out on this side, thank you.
Fans of Seinfeld should note there’s a cameo appearance by Jason Alexander early in the movie. You might not recognize him with hair.
Of special note to children of the ’80’s, this movie stars River Pheonix as the oldest son, and Martha Plimpton as the missionary’s daughter. While flirting with River Pheonix’ character, she has one of the strangest, yet oddly compelling come-on lines I’ve ever heard in a movie.