I caught the first two episodes of The Mosquito Coast, up on Apple TV+ on Friday, April 30. In a word: superb!
I suppose its closest streaming cousin these days is Ozark on Netflix. Both series deal with a family on the lam in the boondocks from a big city and some kind of life of crime. But The Mosquito Coast — adapted from the Paul Theroux 1981 novel of the same name, made into a movie in 1986 starring Harrison Ford — has a life and an energy and a point of view all its own. And it’s attractive and even enlightened and important.
Allie Fox is not just a criminal, or maybe not even a criminal at all, except when he has to be. He has a philosophy, which condemns Democrats as well as Republicans, as well as industrial waste, poverty, and anti-vaxxers. He also invents kludgy but workable contraptions, and can talk fast enough to get himself and his family out of most but not all jams.
Allie is played very effectively by Justin Theroux (I don’t know if he’s related to Paul), who serves up just the right mix of righteous intensity and twinkle-in-his-eye zest for life and creative, off-beat ideas. Melissa George who is always a pleasure to see on the screen, plays Justin’s wife Margot, and she also brings to this role a good mix of motherly love, quick thinking, and joie de vivre. And the two teenage kids — Logan Polish as Dina and Gabriel Bateman as Charlie — put in really powerful performances.
The second episode in particular offers a compelling narrative of immigrants and life on the southern border, and couldn’t be more pertinent to today’s headlines. The whole series has an edge and a timeliness, and I’ll be watching and reviewing the remaining five episodes.