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Welcome to Mooseport (2004)
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Review Date: February 15, 2004
Director: Donald Petrie
Writer: Tom Schulman
Producers: Marc Frydman, Basil Iwanyk, Tom Schulman
Actors:
Ray Romano
Gene Hackman
Maura Tierney
Plot:
The ex-President of the United States moves into his small-town summer home in Mooseport, after divorcing the First Lady. Anxious to fit in, the ex-Prez soon finds himself in a mayoral race vs the town's plumber, whose girlfriend he just happened to ask out to boot. The rest of the film features the two men fighting over both the woman and the election. Fun is supposed to ensue...
Critique:
This is yet another one of those movies that I can't really qualify as a "bad" film, as much as one that just sits there, going through the motions, offering very little in originality or surprise and most unfortunately...in laughs. I remember laughing only once during this entire picture (the scene in which Hackman, as the President, leans in to kiss his date...hilarious!) and chuckling during a couple of other semi-funny moments. Other than that, you'd be surprised at how unfunny TV's most loving guy, Ray Romano, could be in this movie. Hackman, as per his usual self, delivers yet another strong performance, but unlike his funny turn in HEARTBREAKERS (PS: If you haven't seen that flick, rent it today, if only for Jennifer Love Hewitt in a maid's outfit), also comes out flat in terms of comedic wattage. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm not sure where the laughs were supposed to come from. Fred Savage was alright as the ex-President's right-hand man, but not really humorous. Marcia Gay Harden was in the film as an obvious plot device, while folks like Christine Baranksi and Rip Torn likely took their roles in order to work with Hackman (can't blame them). At least Maura Tierney was nice to look at. And if you thought the film's trailer looked funny (which I kinda did), don't be surprised to find its 3-4 semi-humorous moments, as the only real attempts at humor here.

The film features a few big "confrontation" scenes as well, any of which might've been ripe for comedy, but neither of the two televised debates, the golf showdown or the "big date" were memorable in any way, shape or form. As for the film's flimsy plotline, I predicted whom Hackman would end up with from the first 30 seconds that he showed up on screen, so I'm not exactly sure what that says. Furthermore, if you're going to present Romano's character as the typical commitment-phobic male, how about adding a little spice to it, instead of continually cramming his lame inability to either commit or even comprehend the bare notion of "commitment", throughout the entire movie. If there's a denser man in the world than the individual whom Romano portrays in this film, I'd like to see him. Dude, she only "hints" about getting married about a zillion times to your face. Are you that dumb? At least I had an excuse. My ex- never brought up the subject (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!) That said, the film is short, paces itself quite nicely, features a fun, small town "feel", as well as a complementary score, but sadly doesn't deliver in the one department that any comedy should distribute in spades: humor. Rent TIN MEN for a funny version of a movie featuring two hard-headed guys fighting it out over the same girl or CHANGING LANES for a serious film about two knuckleheads who continually feel the need to one-up the other. Skip this port.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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