With the IMAX re-release in full-swing, and this week’s discussion of it on the podcast, we’ve decided to pay tribute to those Jurassic Park characters who don’t get the same love as spotlight-hoggers like Alan Grant, or Ian Malcolm. These are the unsung heroes of the classic film, our Top 5 Underrated Jurassic Park Characters:
5. Gerry Harding (the Triceratops guy)
Although he plays more of a role in the original novel, the character of Gerry Harding is relegated to a brief cameo in the film. Harding is the park’s veterinarian, also he’s the worst veterinarian that’s ever lived. For instance, he doesn’t seem all that concerned that the dinosaurs are surrounded by poisonous plants, stating that the animals stay away from them… you know, just because. Really? You’re even worse at your job than I am, and I’m spending my work day writing an article about Jurassic Park.
Based purely on his mustache, you’d think Harding would be played by, say, Tom Skerritt, or Tom Selleck. But no, for some reason the role is filled by JP producer Gerald R. Mollen. While his non-actor status explains some of his awkward line-readings, it doesn’t explain how he got the job in the first place. Was he hired because his name is basically ‘Gerry’ already? Incidentally, Mollen produced several other Spielberg movies, including Schindler’s List, and would go on to produce the recent film 2016: Obama’s America (which from what I understand, is the documentary equivalent of an angry internet comment thread).
Gerry Harding’s legacy would not end with his brief, poop-filled, scene, however– according to the Jurassic Park Wiki, it is heavily inferred that Sarah Harding, Julianne Moore’s character in The Lost World, is Gerry’s daughter! Twist!
4. Mr. DNA
When we think of the casualties of Jurassic Park, we often think of Muldoon, Sam Jackson’s butt-holding Ray Arnold, and of course, the lawyer, Gennaro. But after the story we see in the film, one could imagine countless catastrophic repercussions as a result of the park’s failure: from the unemployed janitorial staff and culinary team, to the merchandising contracts that will fall through, financially crippling the lunch-box/stuffed animal industry. Even factoring in these deaths, layoffs, and economic recessions, there is one beloved character who deserved more: Mr. DNA.
If Jurassic Park is never opened to the public, then no one will ever tour the lab, meaning they will never watch the introductory cartoon starring the delightful Mr. DNA, thus depriving the world of a would-be classic character. With his Foghorn Leghorn-esque Southern drawl (voiced by Greg Burson) Mr. DNA could have had his own movie, breakfast cereal, Saturday morning cartoon! How about a crossover where Mr. DNA helps the forensics team on CSI? Too bad it will never happen… Stupid InGen…
3. Volunteer Boy
Of course, Jurassic Park wouldn’t be Jurassic Park without the scene in which the film’s hero, Alan Grant, terrorizes a small boy, describing his violent death in graphic detail because he called a species of dinosaur a silly name… you know, like kids do.
What’s always bothered me about this scene is the lack of parental presence– I always assumed the kid was the son of one of the other paleontologists, part of some sort of Take-Your-Child-To-Work-Day. But then why did no one punch Alan Grant in the face and yell “Don’t pretend to disembowel my son you psycho!” If his parents weren’t around, what was that kid doing there?
The disturbing answer comes from the full cast list on Imdb, which lists the boy’s character as “Volunteer Boy.” That kid was there because he was fucking working! This is the dark secret behind Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler’s paleontological digs: Child Labour. And he’s a volunteer! They’re not paying him anything! Why share all that Hammond grant money when you can get some Junior High kid to work for free, and pocket the rest? Also, don’t forget to psychologically torture him in front of the other researchers to keep him in line.
“Dodgson! We’ve got Dodgson here! See, nobody cares.” Wrong. We care. He only appears briefly, but Lewis Dodgson (yes, his first name is Lewis) sets the whole calamitous story in motion, paying off Wayne Knight’s Nedry to steal dinosaur embryos from the titular theme park. Not only is he an essential character for the story, he is played by an actor named Cameron Thor (yes, his last name is Thor).
Maybe in Jurassic Park 4 they will finally explain Dodgson’s backstory, but until then we will have to settle for the enigmatic, sunglass-wearing character we get in the film and rely on crazy, Room 237-esque theorizing to fill in the gaps. Who does Dodgson work for and why does he need dinosaur embryos? Is he planning on starting a knock-off dinosaur zoo? The Royal Crown Cola to Jurassic Park’s Coke? I like to think that he works for a pre-existing theme park company that wants to start incorporating dinosaurs into their parks, like Six Flags, or Disneyland, or Knott’s Berry Farm.
1. The Dilophosaurus
When people talk about Jurassic Park, it’s usually “T-Rex this, Velociraptor that, something, something Jeff Goldblum’s gleaming chest.” But there’s one dinosaur in the flick that rarely gets its due: The Dilophosaurus. Think about it, the Dilophosaurus kills the main antagonist in the film, Dennis Nedry, the guy who endangered innocent people, including children, to satisfy his own lust for money and revenge (you can tell he’s evil and greedy because he’s overweight and wears glasses… well played Spielberg). Looking at the film in these terms, one could even argue that the Dilophosaurus is the hero of the story!
Aesthetically, the Dilophosaurus is also the most stylish dinosaur, with his psychadelic neck frills, and pseudo-mohawk. He’s also got the best special-skill: he spits venom, kind of the dino equivelent of Roberto Alomar. Of course, like most of the best things in life, all of this cool shit was just made up by some guy. Michael Crichton decided to punch-up nature in the original novel, pimping-out the Dilophosaurus, either because he thought it would be snazzier, or he’d gone mad with power.