‘The Mosquito Coast’ feels even weirder moving the book into the modern age

The major connection of observe right here is the involvement of actor-producer Justin Theroux (“The Leftovers”), who’s Paul Theroux’s nephew, and assumes the central position of Allie Fox, the “radical idealist” who chooses to stay off the grid together with his spouse and youngsters. Yet writer-producer Neil Cross (“Luther”) has embellished that with even extra troubling traits, as the household winds up fleeing to Mexico, partaking in a collection of harmful encounters and questionable selections that periodically make them seem like silly Americans in addition to ugly ones.

The most important downside, and it is a huge one, is that there is actually no one right here to love or root for. Certainly not Theroux’s Fox, who drags his teenage children (Logan Polish, Gabriel Batemen) into perilous conditions, or his spouse Margot (Melissa George), who, for all her pained expressions, is greater than slightly complicit in the ordeal.

Nor are the children themselves terribly sympathetic, although the cruelty of their plight feels magnified by the 21st-century setting, depriving them of things like cellphones, and making Allie’s management over them really feel extra unhinged in a doomsday prepper type of method. When the federal agent (Kimberly Elise) monitoring them asks the daughter, “Why is he making you live the way you do?,” it is a query that hangs unhelpfully over the complete train.

Cross mainly joins the story in progress, with the Foxes on the run from the feds, giving the story a extra espionage-type really feel, as the household should drop every part and start its pilgrimage by way of the desert.

The 1986 film starred Harrison Ford as the wild-eyed inventor, and regardless of his protection of the movie, represented one in every of his few conspicuous box-office duds throughout these years. While the seven-episode streaming format offers the alternative to flesh out the story and characters, the web impact of all the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans does not, as Allie and his clan careen from run-ins with US militia members to Mexican drug cartels, often leaping out of the desert frying pan immediately into the fireplace.

Theroux and George do convey appreciable depth to their roles, however a number of of the supporting characters have an virtually cartoonish high quality. Other than a well-deserved lecture to Allie about American imperialism and his myopic self-absorption, Cross presents this eccentric determine with out shedding a lot mild on what he is rebelling in opposition to or the roots of his trigger.

Frankly, there would possibly by no means have been a proper time for one thing like “The Mosquito Coast,” however amid the present crush of conspiracy theories, this conspicuously feels like the improper one. The backside line is Apple has produced a collection that not solely fails to get below your pores and skin, however largely simply makes you wish to swat it away.

“The Mosquito Coast” premieres April 30 on Apple TV+.

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