Welcome To Mooseport

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Welcome To Mooseport

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Romantic, professional, and political competition from a popular ex-president (Gene Hackman) prompts nebbishy hardware-store owner Ray Romano to rethink his relationship with long-suffering girlfriend Maura Tierney in the mediocre new comedy Welcome To Mooseport. Oozing charm and oily pragmatism, Hackman cuts a Clinton-esque figure as a master politician with the supreme self-confidence of someone used to winning—and to being sheltered from the harsher aspects of life by a small army of flunkies. An old pro effortlessly outclassing his humdrum surroundings, Hackman makes a plausible ex-president, but his graceful, lived-in performance is just about the only element of Welcome To Mooseport that rings true. Looking forward to a lucrative retirement following a successful stint in the White House and a failed marriage to shrill gold-digger Christine Baranski, Hackman moves to his vacation home, only to get wrapped up in his small town's political life after its current mayor dies. His competitive impulse ignited, Hackman decides to run for mayor, but he considers backing out once he learns that Romano is also in the race. For Hackman's image-obsessed character, running against an ostensibly lovable everyman like Romano is a lose-lose proposition. If he wins, he's an arrogant, showboating bully. If he loses, he's a walking punchline who can't even get elected mayor of a small town. Welcome To Mooseport seems to realize how weak its foundation is, but formula dictates that Hackman and Romano have to run against each other, because there wouldn't be much of a film if they didn't. To its credit, the film refuses to make villains out of either character. They're both essentially decent, good-hearted men who aren't entirely sure they even want the office, which contributes to the film's genial tone, but neutralizes any lingering threat of urgency. Set in one of those idyllic small towns where everyone knows everyone else and a crime wave consists of multiple snatchings of apple pies left out on window ledges, Welcome To Mooseport boasts a great actor playing a great man without veering anywhere near the vicinity of greatness itself.

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