In narration, Charlie Fox explains that his father, Allie Fox, is a brilliant inventor with “nine patents, six pending.” Allie has grown fed up with the American Dream and consumerism, believing that Americans “buy junk, sell junk, and eat junk.” Furthermore, he fantasizes that there is a nuclear war on the horizon as a result of American greed and crime.
Allie and Charlie go to a hardware store to buy components for a new invention, an ice machine known as Fat Boy. Upon seeing that the product was made in Japan, Allie refuses to purchase it. After Allie and Charlie acquire the components at a local dump, he finishes assembling his creation. Allie’s boss, Mr. Polski, an asparagus farm owner, complains that Allie is not tending to the asparagus, which is rotting.
Allie, Charlie, and Allie’s youngest son, Jerry, meet Mr. Polski, and Allie shows him “Fat Boy.” The machine leaves Polski unimpressed. As he drives past the fields, a dejected Allie comments on immigrants picking asparagus, and says that where they come from, they might think of ice as a luxury. The home of the migrant workers is in a state of disarray, exemplifying their poverty.
That night, Jerry tells “Mother” that he believes something terrible is about to happen. Mother rebuffs her son, explaining that she believes something good will happen. The next morning, Allie throws a party for the immigrant workers before telling his family that they’re leaving the United States. Onboard a Panamanian barge, the family meets Reverend Spellgood, a missionary, his wife, and their daughter, Emily. Emily flirts with Charlie. Allie and the Reverend try to get along, despite having entirely different religious views. When the barge docks in Belize City, the families disembark and go their separate ways. Allie, with the consent of the Belize government, purchases a small village called Geronimo in the rainforest along the river.
Mr. Haddy takes Allie and his family upriver to Jeronimo. Allie meets the inhabitants and proceeds to start building a new, ‘advanced’ civilization, in the process inventing many new things. The locals take kindly to Allie and his family, but Allie’s will to build a utopian civilization keeps them working to their limits. Reverend Spellgood arrives to convert Jeronimo’s citizens. In the process, Allie and Spellgood angrily denounce each other, leading to a permanent schism:
Allie believes Spellgood to be a religious zealot; Spellgood believes Allie to be a communist. Allie sets to constructing a huge version of “Fat Boy” that can supply the town with ice. Upon completing the machine, Allie hears rumors of a native tribe in the mountains that have never seen ice. Allie recruits his two sons to carry a load of ice into the jungle to supply the tribe. Upon arriving, Allie finds that the load has melted, and that the tribe has already been visited by missionaries.
When Allie returns to Jeronimo, he learns that Spellgood has left with much of the populace, scaring them with stories of God’s biblical destruction. The near-empty town is visited by rebels, who demand to use Jeronimo as a base. Allie and his family agree to accommodate them while Allie constructs a plan to be rid of them.
Set on freezing them to death, Allie bunks the rebels up in the giant ice machine, tells Charlie to lock its only other exit, and activates it. The rebels, waking in panic, try to shoot their way out. To Allie’s horror, the rebels’ gunfire sets off an explosion within the machine. By the next morning, both the machine and the family’s home is in ruins, and chemicals from the destroyed machine have severely polluted the river.
The Mosquito Coast is a 1986 American drama film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix, Jadrien Steele, Hilary Gordon, Rebecca Gordon, Jason Alexander, Alice Heffernan-Sneed and Martha Plimpton. It is based on the novel of the same name by Paul Theroux. It was shot in the cities of Cartersville and Rome in Georgia, in addition to Baltimore, Maryland, and Belize.
The Mosquito Coast(1986)
Directed by: Peter Weir
Starring: Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix, Jadrien Steele, Hilary Gordon, Rebecca Gordon, Jason Alexander, Alice Heffernan-Sneed, Martha Plimpton
Screenplay by: Paul Schrader
Production Design by: John Stoddart
Cinematography by: John Seale
Film Editing by: Thom Noble
Costume Design by: Gary Jones
Set Decoration by: John H. Anderson
Art Direction by: John Wingrove
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: November 26, 1986