(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)
I'm sure Welcome to Mooseport sounded like a good idea when it was pitched to 20th Century Fox. And it must have sounded really good in order to get Gene Hackman, Rip Torn and Marcia Gay Harden, not to mention Ray Romano and Maura Tierney to sign on for it. What a waste. The seemingly good idea was to have a popular President of the United States (Gene Hackman) retire to a little town in Maine (actually Port Perry, Ontario) after his term was over, and run for mayor against a local-hero type (Ray Romano). They also throw in a love triangle among Hackman, Romano and Romano's girlfriend, the town's veterinarian (Maura Tierney). Accompanying Hackman to town are his chief of staff (Marcia Gay Harden), speechwriter (Fred Savage) and campaign manager (Rip Torn). Much hilarity was meant to ensue as the campaign for mayor heats into a national-style election complete with debates, press conferences and dirty tricks.
Unfortunately, after signing all this high priced talent, they forgot that they needed a script. They even had a decent director, Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza), and screenwriter, Tom Schulman (Medicine Man, The Dead Poets Society). So I don't know what went horribly wrong. It is unfortunate because the cast is great and they all gave it the old college try. Only Tierney (Abby on ER) and Hackman come close to making their characters fully two-dimensional. The others fail to get even one dimension up and running. Romano, in particular, is really bad. He sinks with the material. I've never watch Everybody Loves Raymond, but it must be better than this. Even such stalwarts as Harden and Torn can't do much with what they are given. And, Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), well, he still hasn't come to terms with his career peaking when he was 12 years old.
Welcome to Mooseport is one of the most unfunny comedies I've ever seen, right up there with There's Something About Mary. Ok, everyone else liked There's Something About Mary but I just checked Rotten Tomatoes and I'm in good company this time. My fellow reviewers agree with me that Welcome to Mooseport stinks. Not only is it not funny, but it's one of those romantic comedies where the "girl" is supposed to choose between a boring but good-hearted local guy and a bling-bling outsider. See, for instance, Sweet Home Alabama, for a much better recent example of this genre. The worst part in this movie is that the local guy (Romano) is such a clueless loser that you can't believe that Tierney would have ever gone out with him, let alone have gone back to him. Ooops! I spoiled the ending. Well, I guess you don't have to go see it then.