“We drove previous Tiny Polski’s mansion home to the primary highway, after which the 5 miles into Northampton, Father speaking the entire manner about savages and the awfulness of America — the way it received became a dope-taking, door-locking, ulcerated hazard zone of rabid scavengers and legal millionaires and ethical sneaks. And take a look at the faculties. And take a look at the politicians. And there wasn’t a Harvard graduate who might change a flat tire or do ten pushups.” Paul Theroux’s 1981 novel The Mosquito Coast started with this unforgettable passage concerning the guide’s principal character, the eccentric inventor Allie Fox, as seen by the adoring gaze of his teenage son Charlie. The comedian power is spectacular sufficient, however the actual energy of this passage lies in its financial system: in simply a few strains we already know that Allie is domineering (“speaking the entire manner”), a judgmental ideologue (the bit about Harvard grads and flat tires) and that his son has begun to uncritically undertake his views about “the awfulness of America”.
Sadly, financial system and astuteness are largely absent from Neil Cross (the creator of BBC’s Luther) and Tom Bissell’s TV adaptation of The Mosquito Coast, the primary season of which releases on Apple TV Plus right this moment. Justin Theroux (by the way, the nephew of creator Paul Theroux) turns in a commendable efficiency as Allie Fox, swinging between emotional rigidity and snap choices with adroitness. The cinematography and camerawork are equally spectacular, marking ambitions with a pair of beautiful lengthy takes within the first episode itself. However the present’s writing finally lets the admirable forged and the supply materials down in an enormous manner.
Fairly merely, the series doesn’t tonally resemble the novel in any respect. The novel is a tragicomedy, a cautionary satire about one man’s ideological obsession and the perils of American exceptionalism. Allie Fox is sick and uninterested in American consumerist extra, and what he perceives because the resultant dumbing down of tradition as a complete. He whisks his household — long-suffering spouse Margot (Melissa George), and youngsters Charlie (Gabriel Bateman) and Dina (Logan Polish) — away to the eponymous Mosquito Coast throughout the Honduras-Nicaragua border, keen to flee the trimmings of modernity together with know-how. All through the guide, nevertheless, Allie’s pet peeves and reckless nature retains touchdown the household into more and more harmful conditions.
Cross and Bissell’s present, nevertheless, transforms this right into a flattened, generic, Ozark/Breaking Unhealthy-mould motion journey, full with stereotypical ‘coyotes’ (individuals who allow you to cross borders illegally), over-the-top Mexican gangsters and so forth. Each episode is set to ship the Fox household headfirst into hurt’s manner at warp velocity—and convey them again from the brink in a scattershot manner. This works when your protagonist is a ‘lamb among the many wolves’, like in Ozark or Breaking Unhealthy’s first seasons. We’re inquisitive about how these males will adapt to conditions far past their consolation zones. Allie, nevertheless, is an selfish blabbermouth management freak who’s satisfied he should purchase, rip-off or cajole his manner out of any scenario — the scrapes he will get into, subsequently, are way more predictable and the emotional stakes are decrease.
Allie and Margot, furthermore, are already on the run with their children from the very first episode — and we don’t actually know why till deep into the final couple of episodes. By the point this (not very plausible) rationalization comes, it’s far too late, narratively talking. I need to admit, this narrative selection struck me as both cynical (maintain the bait dangling for viewers) or too expansive for its personal good (assuming they supply extra again story in future seasons).
One other drawback is the exposition: the writers appear to be perpetually eager to remind us that Allie is a stand-in for a similar horrible elements of American tradition he’s working away from: he’s brash, naïve, confrontational and is underneath the delusion that everyone on the earth (however him) is beholden to the greenback. An in any other case secondary character even spells this out in an prolonged monologue addressed to Allie: “You wish to run away from America, however you possibly can’t. You’ll by no means have the ability to. Due to the best way you’re. The manner you assume you should purchase individuals. The manner you assume you should purchase something you need. Take something you need from anybody you need. And something you don’t such as you simply burn it to the bottom.”
And for those who really feel this is on the nostril, Margot’s personal naive attraction in direction of the thought of a Latin American escape is scored to… The Seashore Boys’ ‘Kokomo’. You already know, the syrupy sing-along that goes: “Aruba, Jamaica, oh I wanna take ya / Bermuda, Bahama, come on fairly mama / Key Largo, Montego, child why don’t we go”. So it’s not like subtlety is the guideline right here. Which is a disgrace as a result of the forged members do their greatest with the scripts they get. Theroux and Melissa George could nicely see Emmy nods coming their manner, in truth (Theroux extra so, not least as a result of he was snubbed for his unimaginable efficiency in The Leftovers). Logan Polish steals each scene she is in, virtually, proper from the primary time she swears at her loco dad (“that’s some Jim Jones bullshit!”) after he confiscates one more low-cost cellphone from her room. The Jim Jones reference can also be apt as a result of Allie is, in any case, much less a household man than the chief of a cult of 4.
Ultimately, nevertheless, it’s not almost sufficient as The Mosquito Coast stumbles in direction of a finale that feels, by some means, each rushed and tardy on the identical time. If Apple does renew it for a second season, these actors deserve a way more formidable script, one that doesn’t flatten their characters into acquainted streaming-era templates.
Score: 2 (out of 5)