In Search of the Jews of Jurassic World
Obviously, it doesn’t matter whether I liked “Jurassic World.” The movie made $520 billion, so one man’s opinion means nothing. But even though I hated that dumb movie as much as I’ve ever hated anything, I still paid my money like all the other chicken-wing-chomping idiots in that suburban theater that Saturday night. At least I had a little side game: I was searching the movie for signs of Jewishness.
Considering that the first two “Jurassic Park” films, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum, rank among the most Jewish blockbusters of all time, I figured it wouldn’t be that tough to detect something mildly Jewish in the new one. But I found “Jurassic World” to be almost thoroughly assimilated, intermarried to the point of disappearance. It brings us all back to that goyish sense of wonder.
The film opens with two bland boys, Zach and Cody, going on vacation to visit their annoying aunt, whose job it is to walk around the dinosaur park spouting clichéd marketing slogans. At first glance, the boys might be Jewish. The younger one is a whiny nerd, and the older one finds shiksas sexually irresistible. But modest examination shows their Jewish potential crumbling faster than a latke without enough egg in the mixture.
First of all, they live in a big yellow house in Madison, Wisconsin. I actually have Jewish relatives who came from Madison, and I’ve visited the city many times, I know that my relatives were outliers. That city is about as Jewish as a mayonnaise factory.
Also, in an act of extremely hackneyed script-patching, the boys’ parents, barely portrayed by Judy Greer and a guy who kind of looks like Ty Burrell, find themselves embroiled in the late stages of divorce but have somehow never gotten around to telling their children. Talk about repressed! If they were Jewish, Mom and Dad would have individually met with the boys months before, to let them know that the divorce was all their fault.
Then there’s the fact that, when faced with the dire situation of being hunted down by a sentient geneticially modified dino-monster, Zach and Cody jerry-rig a rusted-out 1992 Jeep Wrangler Safari and drive it away to safety. They’re able to do this because they “worked on Grandpa’s old Malibu.” Putting aside the fact that those two cars bear about as much similarity to each other as a tank does to a bicycle, if these boys were Jewish a) their grandfather would probably not be driving a Chevy and b) even if he did drive one, he would certainly take it to a mechanic rather than work on it himself.
Next, we must consider the movie’s hero, played by America’s sexy wacky uncle boyfriend, Chris Pratt. His name is Owen, and he is a “Navy man” who sweats moderately in the jungle and doesn’t complain about anything. Not Jewish. Our alpha males run toward the abrasive, like Rahm Emmanuel and Benjamin Netanyahu. They rarely exhibit chill bro behavior under pressure, and certainly would never ride a motorcycle in the jungle at night without a helmet. True, Owen feels sentimental about animals, but that’s not an exclusively Jewish characteristic. His deep feelings toward his raptors still have practical use. If he were Jewish, he would train them by sitting them on pillows and feeding them chocolates, and would then make excuses for them when they ate people anyway.
Meanwhile, the film’s retrograde heroine, Aunt Claire, wears high heels and the most outrageous office outfit in cinema since Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” She has the same hairstyle as the female lead of “The Fifth Element.” Also, her skin is whiter than a North Texas suburb, despite that fact that she lives in a rainforest. She is incompetent at her job and not in touch with her emotions, to the point where she doesn’t even realize that she needs to birth babies to achieve ultimate happiness. Then later she becomes tough, illustrated by the fact that she strips down to a lavender camisole and smears sexy mud on her shoulders. I’m not exactly sure what ethnicity these sure-to-date-poorly sexist character traits are supposed to represent, but let’s just say that Claire never once mentions “cleaning house for Passover.”
The two smartest people in the movie, the park’s billionaire owner and its leading genetic scientist, are both Asian, defying all stereotypes. I suppose it’s possible that Irrfan Khan’s character comes from some ancient Jewish clan of Goa. But that would probably be reading too much into a script that exists mostly to show extinct lizard creatures eating fat people and personal assistants.
It goes without saying that the movie’s computer-generated dinosaurs, the real stars, never experience a single second of crippling self-doubt and seem to have no qualms about consuming all manner of treyf. Besides, no self-respecting Jew would ever go around calling himself Indominus Rex. As counterevidence, we do have the mosasaur, which kind of sounds like “Moses,” but Moses could also be the name of a strong black man, and I will stop this joke before it gets any more racist.
Finally, there’s Jake Johnson, who spends the entire movie playing with action figures, wearing vintage T-shirts and making ironic comments. I watched this character carefully. While almost everyone else in “Jurassic World” either gets eaten, very dirty or both, Johnson doesn’t leave the park’s nerve center control room for the entire movie, not even to go to the bathroom. He just watches the foofaraw unfold on TV.
Think about it. In a movie set in a Costa Rican dinosaur amusement park, he doesn’t go outside even one time. While other characters are getting plucked off their ATVs and speedboats by hungry pterodactyls, Johnson sits there drinking his Slurpee. Even when the military stages a hostile takeover, they ignore him and let him stay at his absurdly complicated computer station so that he can press buttons and call whomever he wants.
Then it all ends. The dinosaurs eat the other dinosaurs, and the rich white people catch one of the many flights available to Costa Rica from Madison so that they can hug their annoying kids who should have died. Pratt, as usual, lands the chick with the weird skin tone.
Meanwhile, Johnson gets sexually rejected, totally friend zoned by his co-worker who used to be a prison guard on “Orange Is the New Black.” He says something snide, turns off the lights, and walks out with the computer still running, in case he needs to check his Twitter feed later. But we still don’t see him go outside into the humidity. Upon further reflection, he may be the most Jewish movie character of this summer and many summers to come. I have found the missing link.
Welcome to Jewrassic World.
Neal Pollack is a writer whose latest novel is “Repeat.”