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Donald Petrie
Gene Hackman, Ray Romano, Marcia Gay Harden, Maura Tierney, Christine Baranski, Fred Savage, Rip Torn, June Squibb, Wayne Robson
Writing Credits:
Doug Richardson, Tom Schulman

This town isn't small enough for the both of them.

Cast your ballot for big laughs when Gene Hackman and Ray Romano find themselves in a hilariously heated race for mayor of Mooseport, Maine. A local plumber (Romano) is plunged into the national spotlight when he takes on the former President of the United States (Hackman), who can't believe he's running against the man installing his toilet! To make matters worse, the ex-prez is trying to steal the election - and the affection of the handyman's girlfriend (Maura Tierney). Whoever wins, one thing's for sure: this town isn't small enough for the both of them!

Box Office:
$26 million.
Opening Weekend
$6.775 million on 2867 screens.
Domestic Gross
$14.469 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 5/25/2004

• Audio Commentary by Director Donald Petrie
• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Soova Commercial
• Fox Flix
• Inside Look


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Welcome To Mooseport (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 20, 2004)

Many TV stars try to make the leap to the big screen, but few succeed. The latest victim: Ray Romano, famous for the very popular Everybody Loves Raymond series. Apparently not enough people love Romano to earn him cinematic success. His first starring effort in 2004’s Welcome to Mooseport landed with a massive thud and only earned $14 million.

Romano plays Handy Harrison, a plumber and hardware store owner in small Mooseport, Maine. He maintains a long-term relationship with Sally (Maura Tierney) who grows tired of waiting for him to propose.

The whole town’s atwitter because popular ex-president Monroe “Eagle” Cole (Gene Hackman) moves to Mooseport. He lost his house in Baltimore through his nasty divorce from Charlotte (Christine Baranski). We learn that he’s used to getting what he wants, as his staff incessantly spoils him.

When the town’s mayor dies unexpectedly, the local elders beseech Eagle to run for the job. He initially shows disinterest, but when Sally states he should do it, Eagle agrees to go for it. You see, Eagle saw her in the crowd and immediately become smitten by the lovely veterinarian.

While the local leaders celebrate his declaration, they discover a fly in the ointment: it turns out someone else convinced Handy to run as well. What Eagle first envisioned as a public relations boon becomes negative, as it looks like others while view the contest as a David and Goliath situation.

Eagle feels he can’t withdraw because he gave his word and won’t break it. Handy agrees to bow out gracefully but changes his mind when he sees some sparks ignite between Eagle and Sally. It appears that Sally embraces Eagle’s attention mainly to snipe at Handy, so he decides to stay in the race as a reaction to this threat.

Eagle quickly gets embroiled in a PR nightmare. He learns about the romantic status of Handy and Sally, which embarrasses him. Matters don’t improve when the national media focuses on this silly race and it turns out that early polls put the race neck and neck.

The rest of the movie follows the dual plot lines. We watch the competition between Eagle and Handy for mayor as well as for Sally. Complications ensue when Charlotte comes to town to make Eagle’s life difficult, and we also see that Eagle’s long-time aide Grace (Marcia Gay Harden) feels ignored even though she clearly maintains a crush on the ex-pres.

Mooseport declares what kind of flick it’ll be from virtually minute one. The film’s opening shows an elderly naked jogger as he flops through town. No one reacts to this obviously everyday occurrence, and it tells us quickly that Mooseport will be a quirky burg with colorful characters. It’s the kind of place that exists only in movies or TV, and it seems pretty lame.

The movie starts off very weakly, as the early jokes focus on toilet gags and humping dogs. It does start to improve as it progresses, though, largely on the strength of the performers. The flick undeniably presents a very strong cast. With two Oscar-winners and a roster of other stalwarts, one can’t fault the casting director for the movie’s case of the blahs.

Or maybe we can, as none of them stand out too strongly. Hackman particularly seems somewhat drab. He mostly looks bored and goes into the role on cruise control. Romano also comes across very low-key, though a lot of that seems to connect to his normal personality.

Probably the best work stems from Harden’s turn as Grace. She doesn’t get much of a role, but she brings a nice sense of humanity and depth to a part that otherwise could be little more than a lovestruck priss. It doesn’t hurt that Harden’s becoming more attractive as she ages; I used to find her somewhat off-putting, but she’s gradually turned rather lovely.

Much of the problem with Mooseport stems simply from its general blandness. It offers an intriguing concept with a solid cast, but the overall execution seems drab. It also runs way too long. It pushes the two-hour mark, which appears excessive for a light romantic comedy.

After a weak start, Welcome to Mooseport does turn into a mildly amusing piece. However, it doesn’t rise above that level, as it stays consistently unexceptional. Despite a lot of good talent in front of the camera, it can’t become a lively and engaging flick, as it generally seems watchable at best.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

Welcome to Mooseport appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although a few defects knocked the picture below “A” level, for the most part it provided a solid presentation.

Sharpness seemed largely terrific. Some wide shots exhibited a little softness, but that stayed minor. Instead, the majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no issues, but I did see some mild edge enhancement at times. Print flaws popped up very infrequently. I saw a speck or two but that was it in this otherwise clean presentation.

Colors presented a highlight of the image. The movie used a fairly naturalistic palette, and the DVD replicated those tones well. The hues seemed lively and vibrant, as they remained clean and distinct at all times. Black levels also appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately dense but not overly opaque. Ultimately, the picture of Mooseport generally looked excellent.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Welcome to Mooseport was decent but unexceptional. However, I didn’t expect much from a flick of this sort, and the mix served the story acceptably well. The soundfield heavily emphasized the front channels. Music presented good stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the sides well enough to create a decent sense of environment. Not a lot happened, though. Occasionally elements moved from side to side, but mostly the track simply showed general ambience. The surrounds mostly just reinforced the front speakers and added almost no unique audio.

The quality of the sound was fairly good. Speech came across as natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a small role in the proceedings, but they seemed acceptably accurate and clear. Music was concise and clear. It didn’t present great dynamics, but the score was reasonably bright and firm. Low-end added slight depth and not much more. In the end, the audio of Mooseport was pretty average.

A smattering of extras showed up for Mooseport. The most significant one comes from an audio commentary with director Donald Petrie. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that seems pretty blah. Petrie goes over topics like locations, deleted scenes, working with the actors and various production subjects. He also often tells us about ad-libbed lines. These elements seem only moderately interesting, and a fair amount of dead space occurs. In addition, Petrie ladles out the praise for all the participants, and that makes the track somewhat tedious. It’s not a terrible track, but it fails to ever become generally interesting.

Next we find six deleted scenes. Via the “Play All” function, these last seven minutes, 55 seconds. Most present extended bits, but a few totally new segments appear. None seem significant, but they fill out some parts nicely. We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Petrie. He tosses in some minor remarks but doesn’t tell us much.

The Outtake Reel runs two and a half minutes. It’s mostly the usual goofs and giggles, but a few decent improvs appear as well. We also get the Soova Commercial, the fictional car company Eagle touts. It’s mildly amusing and can be watched in either English or Norwegian, which simply changes the narration.

Fox Flix presents a trailer for The Clearing. More ads show up in Inside Look, an “exclusive insider’s look at upcoming projects from Fox”. This presents trailers for DodgeBall and The Day After Tomorrow. We also get a look at the production of Garfield: The Movie with cartoon creator Jim Davis, director Peter Hewitt, actors Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt, and visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw. They give us some decent notes about bringing the CG cat to life, but the emphasis of “Inside Look” remains very promotional.

Fans of Easter eggs will find some bonuses here. From the “Deleted Scenes” menu, click to the left of “Play All” to see “Naked Harve on the town”. This offers a quick montage of (censored, thankfully) shots of Ed Fielding as he runs around Mooseport. If you click left from “Outtake Reel”, you’ll get to watch “Monroe Cole’s whimsical weapons”; this provides alternate tools Eagle dreamt of using to kill Charlotte.

Welcome to Mooseport enjoyed a fun concept and a good cast. Unfortunately, it failed to explore the ideas well or appropriately utilize the performers, and it comes across as a decidedly lackluster flick. The DVD presents very good picture with mediocre audio and a decent but unexceptional set of extras. This is the kind of movie you watch when it hits cable and you have nothing better to do; it’s not something you drop money to buy – or even rent – on DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.75 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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