12 February 2009

DVD: "Welcome to Mooseport" - Widescreen Edition

Welcome to Mooseport
Directed by Donald Petrie
Story by Doug Richardson
Screenplay by Tom Schulman
Starring: Gene Hackman, Ray Romano, Marcia Gay Harden, Maura Tierney, Christine Baranski and Rip Torn
DVD Release Date: 25 May 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Some Brief Sexual Comments and Nudity)
List Price: $14.98

The Film
President Monroe Eagle Cole (Hackman) has just left office with the highest approval rating in U.S. history and has decided to move to Mooseport, Maine.  The decision is inspired partly by a pleasant prior vacation experience and partly by his ex-wife (Baranksi) taking their Baltimore home in their divorce settlement.  His arrival coincides with the death of the town's mayor, and the local townspeople beseech him to run in the unopposed contest.  Unbeknownst to them, local repairman and hardware store owner "Handy" Harrison has also been pressured to run.  While neither man really wants the job, neither is willing to back down after the President unwittingly asks out Handy's longtime girlfriend, Sally (Tierney).

Director Donald Petrie's commentary is a reminder that this was a studio-produced film and not an indie project.  The evidence?  He complains about the weather for outdoor shoots, but never once about the budget!  Petrie sings the praises of his cast, most notably Ray Romano, whom he credits with originating numerous ad-libs not only for himself, but for the rest of the cast.  In fact, Romano's lines are generally the funniest moments of the whole film.  Otherwise, there are a few deleted scenes (with optional commentary by director Petrie) and a brief outtake reel.  In the film, there is discussion of President Cole being offered a Norweigian car commercial deal, and it is also included, in both English and in Norweigian!  There are promotional spots for other Fox-produced films, but strangely, the Mooseport trailer is not among these.  The absence of any kind of making-of featurette, or interviews with the cast or crew is, inevitably, disappointing.

The Recommendation
Gene Hackman can convincingly play a U.S. President, and it's nice to see him flex his comedic muscle.  It's not quite as successful as, say, De Niro taking Analyze This or Meet the Parents, but it's entertaining nonetheless.  It's wrapped up too neatly, and while the situation is contrived, it's believable enough and the cast is superb.  Especially funny is a scene in which Sally and the President's advisor Grace (Harden) compare notes while the men play a round of golf to determine which man has to back down in his quest for her.  Welcome to Mooseport won't become anyone's favorite movie of all time, but it's a lighthearted way of whiling away 115 minutes.  Rent it, maybe even blind buy it if you can find it for $5 or less (we paid $2.00 for a used copy at Half Price Books).

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