Well, this’ll take the cake: if your dad is Harrison Ford, and he strands you and your family on a Central American jungle coastline so you can create paradise away from the evils of society, then you’ve won the Worst Vacation Ever sweepstakes handily. In The Mosquito Coast, Ford is fascinatingly out of character as a deluded utopian, and director Peter Weir knows how to turn the screws.
The first coming-of-age ensemble comedy in American movies? George Lucas’s sublime evocation of a midwestern 1962 of cars, rock ’n’ roll radio, and lost subadults, American Graffiti certainly established the timeless stereotypes of that post-graduation summer night that everyone experiences, from the high school sweethearts (Ron Howard and Cindy Williams) confronting college and separation, to the itchy smart kid (Richard Dreyfuss) who doesn’t know if college is what he wants, to the hopeless dweeb (Charles Martin Smith) looking only to score, to the cool dropout hood (Paul LeMat) who cannot adjust to the real world. Roaringly funny and bittersweet.
One of the handful of times that Steven Spielberg’s patented overmanipulations and blue-tinted “sense of wonder” doesn’t curdle in our bellies, this George Lucas–inspired yarn is blessedly free of UFOs and dinosaurs, and is set, rather rowdily, in a 1930s pulp-serial world in which the instantly iconic adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) fights Nazis for the sake of Biblical artifacts. Good-natured and distracting without being patronizing.