Welcome to Mooseport


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Rating: PG-13

Gene Hackman as Monroe Cole
Ray Romano as Handy Harrison
Marcia Gay Harden as Grace Sutherland
Maura Tierney as Sally Mannis
Christine Baranski as Charlotte Cole
Fred Savage as Bullard
Rip Torn as Bert Langdon
June Squibb as Irma
Wayne Robson as Morris Gutman
John Rothman as Stu
Karl Pruner as Dyer
David Macniven as Cloud
Jackie Richardson as Martha
Paul Bates as Bob
Reagan Pasternak as Mandy

Special Features:
Director’s commentary by Donald Petrie

6 deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary

Outtake reel

Soova Commerical

2 easter eggs

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 115 Minutes

After getting divorced while in office, former President Monroe “Eagle” Cole decides to retire at his summer home in Mooseport, Maine. The small town rolls out the red carpet for him and even goes so far as to ask him to run for Mayor. While initially uninterested, Cole sees it as a good PR opportunity. He also decides it will be a good way to impress Sally Mannis, a local woman who he has his eye on.

Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Local handyman Handy Harrison has already signed up to run for Mayor. Handy decides to drop out and let Cole run unopposed in the election until he realizes that the former President has his eye on his girlfriend, Sally. Now a matter of honor, Handy decides to fight the former President for office.

When the national media spotlight focuses on the mayoral election, the small town is turned upside down. The election also starts to turn dirty as the issue of Sally is brought to light. As the stakes are raised higher and higher, neither man will back down. But will their stubbornness cause them to lose what they desire most?

‘Welcome to Mooseport’ is rated PG-13 for some brief sexual comments and nudity.

The Movie:
I missed Welcome to Mooseport when it hit theaters, so I was interested in seeing it on DVD. I like Gene Hackman and while I’m not a huge fan of Ray Romano, I do enjoy his TV show ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. After seeing the film, I didn’t find it to be the laugh-out-loud comedy that I was hoping for, but it wasn’t a total loss either.

Gene Hackman is excellent as former President Monroe Cole. They make a good move in not saying whether he’s a Democrat or Republican, so they don’t alienate either political party. And while Cole is definitely politically savvy and has a little bit of a dark side, he’s still a likable character. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy and the only time he does anything ‘bad’ is when his competitive side comes out. Hackman could have very easily made him a stereotypical political villain, but he didn’t.

Co-starring is Ray Romano. He’s the exact same character here as he is in his TV show. He’s the everyman who’s a little bit whiny. This film marks his big screen debut (if you don’t count Ice Age). He’s another likable character in the film and you root for him to beat Cole in the election. You can tell he improvises with his lines quite a bit. While that’s appreciated, it shows a little too much and doesn’t always seem natural. In any case, he’s decent in his role but it is by no means a breakout role for him. He’s supported by an excellent cast that includes Marcia Gay Harden, Maura Tierney, Fred Savage, and Rip Torn. All of them are good, but Christine Baranski particularly stands out as Charlotte Cole, the President’s ex-wife. She provides some big laughs late in the film as she shows up to help torment Hackman and help Romano win the election.

While the movie is generally mildly entertaining, there are a few big laughs here and there in the story. For example, the Secret Service helps the President win at golf (without him knowing). The mayoral debate starts with an intense game of rock-paper-scissors. Then there’s the gradual scaling down of Cole’s Presidential Library as he spends more and more money on the election. But the strongest, and ironically weakest, part of the movie’s comedy is the political humor. There are some good laughs surrounding the political strategies, media coverage, and debates in the film. Unfortunately, though, it never parodies the election process as fully as it could. Rather than really mocking dirty politics and campaign strategies, they only tease it a little. I think the humor in that department could have been a little more ‘biting’. Instead everything is rather good-natured.

The Extras:
There are a few extras included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:

Director’s commentary by Donald Petrie – Petrie’s commentary is a little dry, but it is still informative. The biggest thing you get from it is just how much Romano improvised on the set. He not only came up with funny lines for himself, but for those in scenes with him. I think it makes me appreciate him more as a writer than an actor. Otherwise Petrie spends a lot of time just complimenting his actors and praising them for their work in this movie.

6 deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary – Most of the deleted scenes are unmemorable. One features Grace giving Handy a check. Another features Bullard getting a phone call. The most noteworthy of the lot is a scene where Sally goes to vote in the election. It has a little more bearing on the plot, so that makes it more interesting.

Outtake reel – This is your standard outtake reel showing actors flubbing their lines and playing jokes on each other. They’re typically fun to watch and this is no exception.

Soova Commerical – In the film, Hackman’s President character considers doing a car commercial in Norway. It turns out that they really shot the commercial parody and it is included here. It is quite amusing and a funny jab at celebrities going overseas to do commercials (that would be ‘beneath’ them in the U.S.).

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a Ray Romano or Gene Hackman fan, I think you may like this movie. While this may not be one to buy for your collection, I think it’s mildly entertaining and worth checking out for a few laughs.