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Overall Rating
2.5

Awesome: 6.25%
Worth A Look: 14.06%
Average: 12.5%
Pretty Bad57.81%
Total Crap: 9.38%

6 reviews, 28 user ratings


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Welcome to Mooseport
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by Erik Childress

"A Political Petri Dish"
2 stars

If ever a film was in need of an order of Levitra, it was Welcome To Mooseport. Ranking amongst the limpest political satires I’ve ever seen, it’s a film that plays it way too polite. Not that all the characters are admirable or without back-stabbing ambition, but the screenplay keeps forgetting. It goes beyond the efforts of a light comedy to invent a new categorization of transparency. If I said it was all handled by the subtle brilliance of director Donald Petrie (Grumpy Old Men, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days), that would be enough for any movie follower to run for the hills.

Monroe Cole (Gene Hackman) is the most recent former U.S. President. Losing his home and most of his assets to the golddigging first lady (Christine Baranski), Monroe is taking up residence at his Maine vacation home in the small town of Mooseport. The town has a big welcome planned for him, although Monroe is only interested in all the post-electoral speaking engagements and book deals that can reap him millions. Already we have one interesting idea to delve into that the film has no interest in exploring.

In Mooseport, however, the Mayor has just died and the town hall wants nothing more than to persuade the former Commander to run for the seat. But there’s also Handy Harrison (Ray Romano), local hardware owner and general Handy-man, who thought he’d do the town a favor in running to fulfill the position. He’s also slogged his feet for six years instead of proposing to his girlfriend, Sally (Maura Tierney). Handy’s all but willing to concede the race to Monroe until he inadvertently puts the moves on Sally; which she is all too eager to accept. Handy’s handling of his final proclamation to enter the race is the precise realization of how pathetic the film’s humor is.

The stage is still set for the everyman vs. the political machine, but Tom Schulman’s lame duck screenplay leaves it no paths. There’s no dirt to be dredged up on Handy other than not being a closer in life. Monroe’s ambitions for mayor have nothing to do with actual results, but rather public relations and a way to block his ex from grabbing any more profit. We don’t even have a proficient satire of the media, which is an easier target than a Buck at point blank range with a bazooka.

Instead we’re directed to boring subplots about characters we couldn’t care less about. Is anyone interested in Monroe’s assistant, Grace (Marcia Gay Harden) having a longstanding crush on the guy? Fred Savage keeps getting a time-out and asked to stand in the corner. Rip Torn shows up to do a campaign advisor version of his Larry Sanders character but even he is backseated and softened all too quickly. Surely there’s more humor to squeeze out of a political staff than THIS.

All three are still certainly more watchable than Sally, who I can’t imagine anyone giving two moose about. She’s one of the main problems with the film. We keep coming back as if the events should revolve around her (the media, the big debate, the bigger golf match.) Both Monroe and Handy are vying for her attention. As played by Tierney, she doesn’t seem to have much of a rapport with either and certainly doesn’t have our support. For once we wish ol’ Handy would hook up with the local blond hottie who actually DOES seem to like him. (Reagan Pasternak, who will probably someday play Paris Hilton in a TV movie.)

Welcome To Mooseport has a few middling laughs, including the golf challenge whose only real chucklers have already been seen in the commercials. In any year, ask me who my five favorite actors are and Gene Hackman will always be on it. Here though it’s depressing to see him trying to make lemonade out of lemons that are still seedlings. Romano fares no better without the snap to his normally shrewdly-observed one-liners, leaving us with just the whiny indecisiveness. And who wants that in a leader? Probably the same people who keep hiring Donald Petrie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8748&reviewer=198
originally posted: 02/20/04 17:00:54
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User Comments

2/01/15 Scott Barden Loved it. Hackman sparkles, Tierney is enchanting. Lots of laughs and subtleties. 5 stars
12/12/13 Dane Youssef One of those warm, cheerfully, cuddy and upbeat small-town films. Not especially funny..... 3 stars
10/18/09 Jeff Wilder Amusing enough in spots. Hackman's good (He always is). But Romano's bleh (he always is) 3 stars
5/19/08 Jack Sommersby Romano is terminally bland in this poorly written and limply directed failure. 1 stars
7/04/06 William Goss May be the most gratingly bland comedy in recent memory. Should've gone straight to CBS. 2 stars
10/23/05 Jenny Tullwartz Raved by another constipated anal-retentive performance by Maura Tyranny. 2 stars
8/23/05 ES Entertaining, Ray and Gene are naturally entertaining, good movie for a family get together 4 stars
4/08/05 Tim Buchanan I enjoyed it. Made me laugh alot. 5 stars
3/27/05 Tim Buchanan Very enjoyable movie.Maura Tierney is so cute. 5 stars
2/21/05 Dan Pretty good... 4 stars
1/02/05 Landshark A town as slow as sweet, sassy, molassey (as Ray might say) 3 stars
11/14/04 Evelyn so boring I turned off the DVD after about 40 inane minutes. 1 stars
6/08/04 Fred Embarrisingly bad 1 stars
6/01/04 The Chronic predictable and bland 3 stars
5/31/04 Troy Kuprash Average Movie 3 stars
5/03/04 john bale Hackman drifts through this dismal comedy, while Romano adds nothing whatever. 2 stars
5/01/04 susan should have turned out better, romano needs to pick better films if he wants a post tv care 2 stars
4/17/04 Robyn Jamil-Walid Right! MT's character a taken-for-granted heroine that they forgot to ever make likeable. 2 stars
4/17/04 Jenny Tullwartz Raved by another constipated anal-retentive performance by Maura Tyrrany. 3 stars
3/21/04 Linda Ellis Enjoyable light hearted movie 3 stars
3/19/04 Chris Everybody hates Raymond! 1 stars
3/17/04 Chris I laughed with all the crap in Hollywood here is a movie that's innocent and mildly funny. 4 stars
2/28/04 manollo Pfeiffer 5 stars
2/23/04 E.Barbar Very insipid movie! A waste of time. 1 stars
2/22/04 ajay amusing, typical, good cast, just a typical "blah" of a movie. 2 stars
2/22/04 Betty White Annoying, almost laughless comedy; Harden & Baranski come off best. 2 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva Some laughs 3 stars
2/21/04 John Spagnolo An antidote for insomnia 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  20-Feb-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-May-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Apr-2004




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