Movie Review
Welcome to Mooseport
Welcome to Mooseport poster
By Gareth Von Kallenbach     Published February 21, 2004
US Release: February 20, 2004

Directed by: Donald Petrie
Starring: Gene Hackman , Ray Romano , Heather Allin , Christine Baranski

Running Time: 110 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $14,469,428
What should be a series of funny escapades never materializes, as Romano spends the majority of the film whining and is a very annoying and unsympathetic character.
For the small town of Mooseport Maine, life is about to become very interesting. The town is about to welcome former President Monroe Eagle Cole (Gene Hackman) as one of their own, as the former Commander in Chief has decided to settle in what was previously his summer residence. The former President is still dealing with his ex-wife Charlotte (Christine Baranski), as her ever increasing demands have forced him to look for peace and quiet in Mooseport. There, he ponders speaking engagements, publishing his memoirs, building his library, and offers to join the boards of many Fortune 500 companies.

On the other side of town, local handyman Handy Harrison (Ray Romano) is happily enjoying the lucrative check he has just earned for doing the plumbing on the Presidential estate. He ponders getting a new truck much to the dismay of his veterinary girlfriend, Sally (Maura Tierney), who would rather see a ring after nearly six years of dating. After Handy angers Sally by showing up late and unkempt to a date, Sally accepts a dinner invitation from the President who does not know that she is involved with Handy.

To further complicate matters, the town leaders have asked the former President to be the Mayor even though Handy has applied for the job. Facing a no-win situation, President Cole persuades Handy to forgo the position. That is until Handy realizes that Cole intends to go through with the dinner he asked Sally to. Suddenly, the gloves come off, as Handy and the former President face off for a campaign that soon becomes the lead story on every news report in the country.

What should be a series of funny escapades never materializes, as Romano spends the majority of the film whining and is a very annoying and unsympathetic character. We are supposed to feel sorry for a man who has basically ignored his loving and loyal girlfriend for six years and is clueless to her needs. To further complicate this matter, Handy treats her as an object to be bargained over rather than a person who needs to be loved and appreciated. We are also supposed to watch the 72-year old Hackman attempt to romance a woman almost half his age while the entire town and assembled media watch his every move. This should be an area rife with humor, but aside from one joke, it is miserably flat.

There are some nice supporting touches, such as Marcia Gay Harden as the President?s Press Secretary and Fred Savage as the well meaning but bumbling spin doctor, but they are largely wasted in a dull film that is largely devoid of laughs. With such a nice selection of talent, I kept waiting for this film to go somewhere, but it never did. Hackman works mightily to make something of the material, but there isn?t enough substance; Romano offers nothing more than a 90-minute version of his television character, only without any laughs. My advice would be for him not to give up his day job, and for you to avoid this film.
Gareth's Grade: C-
Gareth's Overall Grading: 50 graded movies
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