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The Next Reel • Season 13 • Series: 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Nominees • Congo

Film Details

Series: Director:
Year: Decade:


“Are you serving that ape a martini?”

In the early 1990s, following the massive success of Jurassic Park, studios were eager to adapt more of Michael Crichton’s popular novels to film. Congo had been published back in 1980 but no one had figured out how to bring the complicated story to the big screen. After the rights bounced around for years, Paramount finally secured them in 1994 and began fast-tracking production. Director Frank Marshall was fresh off hits like Alive and Arachnophobia when he signed on to direct Congo, along with an all-star cast including Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, and Tim Curry. But the difficult shoot for Congo on location in Africa plagued the production. Despite high hopes, the film flopped critically when it was released in 1995, earning Marshall a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off the 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Nominees series with a conversation about Marshall’s 1995 film Congo.

Here’s a hint at what we talk about.

In this lively discussion, we dig into the pre-production and challenges behind adapting Michael Crichton’s 1980 novel Congo to the big screen in 1995. We discuss the all-star cast and debate whether the directing, acting, or weak script led to poor character development and lack of chemistry. We also analyze the cultural portrayal and exploitation of Africa in cinema at the time.

Here are a few other points in our discussion about Congo:

  • Weak CGI and special effects that don’t hold up today
  • The silly conceit of the genetically engineered “bad gorillas”
  • Confusion over who the true Congo protagonist is
  • Enjoyable moments from Ernie Hudson and Tim Curry

Though we have some fun unpacking this Razzie-nominated film, we ultimately agree Congo fails to come together as an entertaining adventure. The story loses Crichton’s scientific edge and thought-provoking commentary on technology in the adaptation. We still have a great time talking about it, so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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