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:: Welcome To Mooseport

Ray Romano from Everybody Loves Raymond hits the big screen for the first time as Handy Harrison the small town hardware store owner and local fix-it guy from Mooseport. Life for Handy is grand everybody knows him and everybody loves him (yep just like Raymond) until his little world is disrupted when newly retired US President Monroe Cole (Gene Hackman) and his team decided to land in town.

Cole, desperately in need of some cash and publicity, decides to move in and run for mayor in his favourite holiday destination and move in on a lovely young local veterinary Sally Mannis (Maura Tierney). Handy is furious at this as he and Sally have a wonderful arrangement of a relationship for 6 years and she has finally realised that he will never commit and take the plunge, so it’s over red rover!

Handy takes matters in his own hands and shocks the whole of Mooseport by running for mayor also. So the game is on, Cole versus Harrison for the town and the girl, making good publicity for Cole and bad sentiments for Harrison. In between all this hoohaa Cole’s ex-wife returns to sabotage her ex and Cole’s secretary professes her love for him, and Ray, (I mean Handy), still won’t commit to anything except stupidity.

Although rest assured all’s well that end’s well, of course and Ray/Handy and Sally live happily ever after in their small and quiet town, as does Cole.

Written by Tom Schulman (bizarrely enough he wrote and received an Academy Award for Dead Poet’s Society) and directed by Donald Petrie (How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Miss Congeniality) this movie is as flat, bland, boring, predictable and stupid as they come. With the initial potential of becoming a good political satire like Primary Colors or Wag The Dog it is anything but, moving more towards ludicrous (but not in the good, funny way) and unoriginal.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the film is blessed (or cursed) with a great cast, whose talents are clearly wasted on this film. Characters are mainly played for laughs, although one can’t help wondering where they are? And when we are given a brief moment or two where we are suppose to care, it is a struggle to find anything to care about other than what these accomplished and some Multi-award winning actors are trying to achieve with these emotionless, one dimensional characters.

Hackman makes the most he can, which isn’t too much. Romano and Tierney are supposed to be our emotional centres although with Romano’s completely wooden performance the talented Tierney has nothing to bounce off on, as does any other actor who comes into contact with him such as Marcia Gay Harden, Rip Torn, Christine Baranski, Fred Savage.

Welcome to Mooseport seems to be tapping into the quirky, small town comedies that Northern Exposure achieved so well on television, sadly for almost two hours it fails miserably, although it does feel as if you are watching a television movie of the week, so maybe something was achieved?