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Welcome to Mooseport

Starring: Gene Hackman, Ray Romanao, Maura Tierney, and Marcia Gay Harden
Directed by: Donald Petrie

 

 

Bluntly Speaking? Mooseport is one of those dreaded middle-of-the-road comedies. Its friendly, nicety-nice, mock-funny, play-it-safe and use-all-the-cliche's-we-got style would have been more comfortable on LifetimeTV or the like. The script flows like a 'Comedy Romance 101' project, for a drama student, in a first year film school.

Story goes...Handy Harrison (Ray Romano) is a white-toast monotone, yet, likeable guy. He's friendly to all in the town and meanders through his day with an internal "whistle-while-you-work" smile. His girlfriend - of six years - Dr. Sutherland (Maura Tierney) is just pining away the days waiting for the schlub to ask her to marry him. He, of course, is clueless to her "secret" desire of wedlock.

When the ex-President of the United States, Monroe "Eagle" Cole (Gene Hackman) moves to Mooseport, and is instantly smitten with Dr.Sutherland, suddenly Handy peeps his head from his turtle's shell. What's this another man wants his woman! Now he's ready to rumble...well, play golf to win her back.

But the mayhem doesn't stop there...that's just a perecentage of the shennagans! See, Mooseport needs a Mayor. And the ex-President offered to do the job. But, in what can only be called blatant plot movement, Handy "Ho-Hum" Harrison too is vying for the position.

So, testosterone and politics seep into our fable and the two men amicably (think of the "After you." - "No, after you. I insist." duo Chip n' Dale), battle for the girl and the post for the next two hours. Parts play like leftover dialog from the 'Andy Griffith Show' and the characters are cookie-cutter folks dreamt up while the writer gazed at some Norman Rockwell painting, Comedy For Dummies handbook in hand. There are a couple of laughs - you can see those for free in the trailer. But to fork out half a hundred bucks (after popcorn purchase) to partake in the semi-mayhem? No way!

To me Ray Romano is physically like a meatier non-edgy blank version of John Turturro. Sadly, his "Handy" character is the same as he's famous for from his sitcom. But here the poor guy is adrift in a sea without the same workable oneliners. In fact his whiney bellowing one-liners, kinda cute on primetime and anchored by his TV costars, seem a tad psychotic here as his fellow film actors just seem to let them go unacknowledged - like he didn't really speak outloud.

Gene Hackman was cordial as the ex-President of the United States Monroe "Eagle" Cole. The Hackman always gives good superiority and comedy, too bad the script let the big palooka down...

Speaking of ripping talented actors off - the supporting chicks, radiant Maura Tierney and beautiful Marcia Gay Harden, play women that have the scholastic degrees we want to see, but, with the backbone of those pseudo-American housewife gals devious ad campaigns created way-back-when to blur a women's life goals and drive her to little yellow pills. As if stirring up stereotypes of yesteryear wasn't pathetic enough, the film "went there" with the older guy, younger girl routine - it was almost disturbing to watch Hackman try to seduce Tierney while Harden seethed silently, lusting in the shadows, like the dutiful woman the writer thinks still (ever) existed. Mr. Hackman's enormous talent aside, what's he the lighter side of eighty? Um, yech.

Snack recommendation: T-bone and a soda pop.



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