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Bland and unfunny, Mooseport disappoints

Welcome to Mooseport batters audiences with dry situational humor and an overabundance of clichés. There’s only one reaction acceptable: Thanks, but no thanks.

On the surface, Mooseport seems a decent story: Gene Hackman and Ray Romano fighting over mayorship in a small hick town. But the film is as fresh as last December’s gallon of milk and as funny as Everybody Loves Raymond, and that’s not saying much.

Romano and Hackman are joyless in this tasteless comedy that treads ground covered many times before. Maybe Romano is still accustomed to hearing the sounds of pre-recorded laughter rather than the awkward silence of an audience caught in a cinematic car wreck.

Mooseport has only one stand-out performance: Maura Tierney playing a woman trapped between Romano and Hackman’s crosshairs. And that just won’t cut it.

After suffering a bitter divorce, former Mr. President, Monroe Cole (Hackman) retreats to his vacation home in Mooseport. While there, he looks into various financial endeavors such as a lucrative book deal and a multi-million dollar speaking tour. But the town council has different plans — they ask Monroe to be Mooseport’s mayor. He refuses until his eyes fix on the beautiful Sally (Tierney) and a firm NO becomes a subtle yes that makes the quiet town the center of a media frenzy.

NBC, Newsweek and all other major media outlets swarm Mooseport to catch Amercia’s most beloved president struggling in a close mayoral race against a local handyman.

There is one problem: Handy Harrison (Romano) has also chosen to run for mayor. To make matters worse, Sally is Harrison’s long-time girlfriend.

Monroe is stuck between a rock and a hard place as he, the former commander–in–chief, begins losing to the man who fixes his toilets.

What could’ve been a funny premise was instead turned into a cheesy dramedy with a tired love triangle formula.

Hackman delivers his most unsatisfying performance since 1990’s Loose Cannons, but worse yet, in Mooseport he seems uninterested with the character and the entire film.

He chimes in a few times during the film to give this mindless piece of celluloid trash some rare moments of comedy.

Making his feature film debut, Romano is as bland and boring as his character on Everybody Loves Raymond. Whereas his television show is salvaged by the supporting cast, Romano is completely unequipped to carry a movie on his own. Audiences just don’t want to hear an idiot struggling with the English language for longer than 22-minute increments (George W. Bush is enough for everyone).

Tierney reprises her role from Liar Liar as a woman in a relationship with a man that’s to immature and unable to commit. She provides depth, strength and a sense of independence to her character. If the screenwriters would’ve written more characters like this, Mooseport wouldn’t have been the disaster it is.

The film’s direction barely supports its paper-thin plot and switches approaches so often that it hinders the chance that audiences will care for the characters, disturbing any development.

With nothing going for Mooseport besides one solid performance, the film is agonizing to watch and too painful to remember.

Mooseport is an example of missed opportunities and underperformers (Hackman and Romano) that hand in a piece of commercial trash in hopes the public will dig in.

Mooseport, if shortened, would’ve played better as a 40-minute episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and it still wouldn’t be funny or original, but at least you could change the channel without losing a night at the multiplex.