WHEN: 8:40pm EST, March 30th, 2013
WHERE: My parents’ house in western Maine
FORMAT: Digital download on my iPhone 3
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Very sleepy.
POOR PATHETIC GENNARO:
There is no sadder, more wretched character in Jurassic Park than Donald Gennaro. He is a sniveling toady at his best, and a feckless coward at his worst, with a little bit of greedy price-gouger in between. From superficial foibles to deep personality flaws the movie gives us many reasons to dislike him. For example:
He doesn’t want the poor to be able to visit his theme park.
He wears stupid shorts.
His legs can’t compare to Sattler’s (or Muldoon’s for that matter).
He is afraid of lightning.
(Also has gopher teeth.)
He won’t let kids use nifty gadgets.
He abandons children.
Not as in “deadbeat dad.” To our knowledge.
I think we can safely say that Gennaro is one sadass shit-bird, and an all-around sorry individual. But what would you say if I told you he hadn’t always been this way? Well, if you’ve read the book, you probably aren’t that surprised.
A fit, athletic man in his thirties, the Donald Gennaro of the book is a sharp contrast to his cinematic counterpart. He drives a jeep while a drunk Muldoon shoots rockets at a T-rex. He bullshits boat captains in legalese. He fights a one-legged raptor off by hand. He is pretty damn kickass.
Just like his cinematic counterpart, the Donald Gennaro of the book is an agent of Jurassic Park’s investors, on a mission to determine, without bias, the threat posed by the park. Literary Gennaro, however, takes this job seriously. While Movie Gennaro is dreaming of a pool full of money, Book Gennaro is imagining the horrific consequences of a dinosaur escape.
The part of Book Gennaro will be played by Jon Hamm.
He listens carefully to the scientist’s opinions (it’s why they were invited to the island, after all) and even asks for their takes on his own concerns. He takes a hands-on approach to evaluating the island, opting to stay with the sick dino alongside Sattler and Harding, rather than continue the tour with the others. When things start going wrong, he actively assists the efforts to regain control by hunting the rex with Muldoon and attempting to restart the generator. His is the role of the interested and somewhat responsible investor. While he briefly thinks of the monetary rewards the island offers, he is more concerned with the liability it may represent. He’s not perfect, but at least he’s skeptical.
“I also choose not to endorse your park!”
In the film, Gennaro retains his role as investigator of the island, but here it is little more than a plot convenience. If he weren’t investigating the island there would be no reason to bring Grant, Sattler, and Malcolm to Dino-Land. Along with his name, this seems to be all that is left of our poor Gennaro. What happened to him?
Well, I’m sorry to say, he got a Hammond infusion.
See, in the book, Hammond is a much nastier character than in the film. He lies, he uses his grandkids as a diversion to slow Gennaro’s investigation, and he’s in this for the money first and foremost.
Played, for our purposes, by Bryan Cranston.
For the movie, this poses a problem. If Hammond is a nasty individual, the audience won’t be able to relate to him. If Hammond (and thereby Jurassic Park’s management) is viewed as the enemy from the get-go, then the film could easily become a flat-out horror film, and not the wonder-filled experience its first half aims to be. But the negative aspects of Hammond’s character are important. Without the cut corners intended to save money and increase profits, events would not unfold the way they do. Someone needed to shoulder the guilt of the financial side of Jurassic Park. It couldn’t be Hammond, and everyone hates lawyers anyway soooooo…
“Ask not for whom the mirror shakes, it shakes for you.”
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Gennaro also takes on the function of Ed Regis from the book. Ed Regis was Jurassic Park’s publicist who got stuck watching after the kids, stopped watching after the kids, and then got eaten by a T-rex. But one less character makes the script easier to follow, and if Gennaro’s becoming an asshole anyway, may as well give him Regis’s job too.
Shitty though that job may be.
WHY WE SHOULDN’T FEEL TOO BAD:
In a certain sense, it’s a shame that Gennaro is turned into the miserable creature that he is. It means the film loses the opportunity to delve into the issue of an investor’s responsibility. If you put your money into a company but don’t keep tabs on what it’s up to, how responsible are you for its actions? How much of the blame do you share? These are questions that go unasked in the film, due to Gennaro’s transformation and untimely demise.
But is there room for them in the film? Philosophically, yes. From a practical standpoint, no. A lot of things had to be left behind when Jurassic Park was adapted. At over two hours, Jurassic Park squeezed in about as much as could be expected of it. Still, it’s interesting thinking of things that might have been.
Maybe in a Jurassic Park mini-series.