Welcome to Mooseport (2004)



Critic Consensus: A bland comedy that squanders a talented cast.

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Welcome to Mooseport. The sleepy Maine community has all the accoutrements of idyllic small town life: a little park and gazebo, quaint architecture, a moose that wanders through the streets, and lots of friendly townsfolk, including the proprietor of the local hardware store, Handy Harrison and his veterinarian girlfriend Sally. Mooseport also just happens to be the vacation home for the leader of the free world: Monroe "Eagle" Cole, the President of the United States. Following two successful terms, the wildly popular President is ready to retire to his "Mooseport White House," publish his memoirs and embark on a series of lucrative speaking engagements. But Eagle's retirement is delayed when the folks of Mooseport convince the former President to run for Mayor. At the same time, he sparks to Sally--unaware that she is Handy's girlfriend. So, when a jealous Handy announces HIS candidacy for mayor, Eagle is dumbfounded. Handy, in turn, sees himself in a race for Mayor and boyfriend. As the campaign kicks into high gear, things get even wilder in this once quiet town.
PG-13 (for some brief sexual comments and nudity)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
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Ray Romano
as Handy Harrison
Gene Hackman
as Monroe Cole
Marcia Gay Harden
as Grace Sutherland
Maura Tierney
as Sally Mannis
Christine Baranski
as Charlotte Cole
Fred Savage
as Bullard
Rip Torn
as Bert Langdon
Wayne Robson
as Morris Gutman
Edward Herrmann
as Debate Moderator
Jim Feather
as Reuben
Ed Fielding
as Harve
Natalie Brown
as Laurie Smith
Paul McGuire
as Local Reporter Chip
Heather Allin
as Local Reporter Heather
J.C. Kenny
as Local Reporter J.C.
Diana Platts
as Fox Newscaster Jane
Peter Snider
as Fox Newscaster Bill
Dan Duran
as Local News Anchor Daryl
Pat Moffatt
as Council Woman
Bill Lynn
as Clay
Jayne Eastwood
as Lucy Decker
Diane Gordon
as Elderly Woman on Street
Armando Tosquellas
as Grizzled Tattooed Driver
Carly Street
as Pig 'n' Whistle Waitress
Catherine Burdon
as Flight Representative
Enis Esmer
as Airport Passenger
Deborah Glover
as Airport Passenger
Adam Bramble
as Smitty the Cook
Michael Kinney
as Secret Service Agent
Jon Manfrellotti
as Reporter
Mark Kersey
as One Man Band
Sam Moses
as Hardware Store Customer
Krista Sutton
as Live Newscaster
Dawn Greenhalgh
as Coffee Shop Waitress
Jeff Gruich
as Bar Patron No. 1
Andrew Moodie
as Bar Patron No. 2
Doug Murray (II)
as Bar Patron No. 3
Jackie Laidlaw
as Townsperson No. 2
Andy Hirsch
as Radio DJ Danny
Arlin Miller
as Radio DJ Jim
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Critic Reviews for Welcome to Mooseport

All Critics (144) | Top Critics (40)

It's a snooze on every level.

March 4, 2004
New York Observer
Top Critic

Devoid of wit and point.

February 26, 2004
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Means to satirize the TV-fueled carnivalesque nature of American electoral politics but only demonstrates the TV-fueled debasement of American commercial comedy.

February 24, 2004
Village Voice
Top Critic

[Mooseport is] like the pound cake of movies -- nice and safe and sweet, but not really worth recommending.

February 23, 2004
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Pretty skimpy on fun.

Full Review… | February 20, 2004
Top Critic

Gets old faster than uncovered cheese.

February 20, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Welcome to Mooseport

I remember when I was once sick with sort of bug. Though the sickness only lasted for one day, it was the most agonizing pain I had ever felt. I puked my guts out - nothing would stay in me, not even water. If I had so much as a small drink of water, I was going to purge shortly after. Even if I had nothing in my stomach, if I so much as shifted slightly in the chair that I lay, I was going to vomit shortly afterward. It was horrible. The pain wouldn't subside. I couldn't even entertain myself with a film or a video game. Trying to do anything made it feel even worse. I just lay there in the chair for hours on end, staring at nothing and in agonizing pain. It literally made me want to die, it hurt so bad. Why do I bring this story up? Because Welcome To Mooseport induced similar levels of pain. This film was so wretched, so horribly unfunny, so awkward, and so painfully lazy and stupid that it actually caused me physical pain to watch it. It's one of the most agonizing, horrible film-watching experiences I've ever had and easily ranks among the twenty worst films I have ever seen. I will go to my grave cursing this film and its existence. I am filled with seething contempt for it with every fiber of my being. The story revolves around the town of Mooseport, a small, idyllic, thoroughly cliched town which in the midst of an upcoming election for mayor. The focus falls on two characters: One is handyman, Harold (Also known as Handy) Harrison, who is a bumbling idiot plumber of sorts whose long-time girlfriend, Sally, has broken up with him after not proposing marriage after so long. The second is former president, Monroe "Eagle" Cole, who has just left office with very high approval ratings looking to retire to his vacation home in Mooseport. Despite having left office with such high approval ratings, some things in Monroe's life aren't going so well, as he in the midst of a divorce and his ex-wife is looking to attain his various assets in the divorce proceedings, much to his chagrin. Seeing as he is a popular president, the town council approaches Monroe about running for office, which he is reluctant to do since he just finished his presidential term. But, as his aides explain to him, if he runs for mayor, his vacation home can serve as his office and can't be obtained by his ex-wife in the divorce proceedings. Seeing this opportunity, as well as sort of ego boost to be both a popular president and a popular mayor, he decides to go for it. Meanwhile, Handy's name has been put up as a candidate for mayor unbeknownst to him, which at first decides not to go for, seeing as his rival is a former president, but when Monroe flirts with Sally, Handy decides to run for mayor to win her back. Soon, wacky election shenanigans take place as the two battle it out, complete with all sorts of scenarios like Monroe's ex-wife helping out Handy to humiliate Monroe, Monroe's true feelings for his executive secretary/aide, Grace, start to form, blah, blah, blah. Cliches abound, to cut this summary shorter. You know what's going to happen like clockwork, for there is not an original bone in this film's body. The story, despite its cliches, sounds fairly promising with all the makings of a screwball comedy with romance and political discussions sprinkled about. In fact, the plot feels like its trying to invoke screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's. However, this plot can't even begin to compare to those classic films it so desperately wants to emulate. It doesn't even earn the right to kneel before the altars of those comedy greats. It is a complete and utter failure - one of the biggest blights on comedy of the century (Which is pretty damn impressive considering the sheer number of shitty comedies this century has inflicted upon the masses less than twenty years in). The plot is so poorly written, that it would have trouble sustaining a 22-minute episode of a shitty sitcom, yet it has the gall to clock in at nearly 2-fucking-hours. There are no real characters. There's no interesting development. There are no interesting discussions about politics. Nothing interesting or feel-good about romance. Not a single joke feels timed or written right. Nothing works. There is nothing to latch onto - not as an intelligent comedy, not as a stupid-fun comedy - NOTHING. It will leave the viewer dead in the water. The plot isn't even assembly line generic. It's below even the bargain bin version of assembly line generic films. It's the rejected bargain bin version of assembly line generic - with its rotting corpse fished out of a dumpster. The acting? Oh God, the acting. If this were a screwball comedy of the 30's or 40's, it would have been great. I would picture it being directed by say, Frank Capra, George Cukor, or Howard Hawks. It would be written by Donald Ogden Stewart, Ruth Gordon, or Garson Kanin. In the Gene Hackman role, I would imagine it to be played by someone like Spencer Tracy, or perhaps Lionel Barrymore. In the Ray Romano role, I would imagine James Stewart or Cary Grant. The love interests, oh, so many choices...Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Margaret Sullavan, Jean Harlow - take any pick of an actress you enjoy from those decades. The ex-wife? Heh, heh...Bette Davis, no question. Oh, to dream of how this premise could have worked. If it had been made and starred these Hollywood greats, it would have been one of the best damn films ever. But, we can't have everything we want. Instead, we get this abomination of acting, even from distinguished stars. Gene Hackman delivers a career-worst performance, which is a hell of a way to go out as this was his last film. I suppose it's karmic retribution for all his shitty behaviors on the sets of various films he worked on (For example: The Royal Tenenbaums), but still, it's rather sad to see an accomplished actor end their acting career on something that is not only bad, but something so utterly horrible and brain-dead. Ray Romano can play a charming doofus. Though it's been a number of years, I remember liking Everybody Loves Raymond and he proved himself to be a decent actor, and Ice Age (First one. I can't comment on the sequels) was also a decent showing of his acting capabilities. Even he isn't spared despite the character he plays. He, too, delivers a career-worst performance, for he is not charming or likable. He just comes across as painfully awkward. Though there are other stars, including the career thrashing of award-winning Marcia Gay Harden, nobody else is worth mentioning - not even Harden, for she is thrown to the side of the film's plot as the disposable love interest/aide of Monroe. There is nothing for her here. Oh, it's also got Rip Torn. Despite the presence some rather established stars, this film wastes them so badly that I barely recall them even being in the damn thing because it's so lazy and uninspired. The humor in this film is nothing short of utter failure. I did not laugh once. I didn't even so much as slightly chuckle. So painful was this film's humor that while watching it, I threw myself to the floor to bang my head on the floor. Big mistake, for the humor was so awful, it left me on the floor as if I was receiving a beating from the film. I just lay there, staring up at the TV, hating it, loathing it. When I attempted to get up, I would pick up the box on the coffee table, only to angrily throw it whenever I looked upon Roger Ebert's endorsement of the film ("Thumbs up. A very good time." BULL. FUCKING. SHIT). I would then fall back to the floor, enduring the agony of what was destined to become one of the worst films I had ever seen, hoping that it would either end soon or that I would die. When the comedy fails in a comedy, what else is there to be entertained by? It's not like say, Showgirls, which despite being utterly awful, it became entertaining because of how bad it was. All other film genres have this luxury: if they fail at their intended purpose, there might at least be a chance of salvaging it on the basis of unintentional comedy. But when a comedy fails at being funny, there's nothing to fall back on - nothing to salvage. Welcome To Mooseport is a particularly painful example of this kind of botch. Welcome To Mooseport is one of the worst films I have ever seen. It's not only bad, but it's physically painful to watch. It's one of those bad films that has changed me and helped me really understand the meaning of a truly bad film. Whenever people ramble on about the latest Michael Bay blockbuster, Roland Emmerich film, Uwe Boll B-movie crapfest, or whoever's film is the "WORST MOVIE EVER!!!", I am envious of their naivety. That have not experienced the film-watching horrors that I have endured. They have no idea how far the rabbit hole of shitty films really goes. This film is one of the horrors of taking the ill-advised journey down that rabbit hole just to see how far down it really goes. Don't do it, people. You won't come out the same person.

Keenan Sullivan
Keenan Sullivan

No work of art but a pleasant silly comedy which is unfortunately damaged by a very dull Ray Romano in one of the leads. Sadly this seems to be the film Hackman chose to close out his career.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

This movie has a great and seemingly original premise, but I think that was all Gene Hackman found out about it before signing on... Ray Romano is his usual boring self, but Hackman is complemented by unsung TV vets Maura Tierney and a surprisingly good Fred Savage, as well as the usual Marcia Gay Harden. The script was okay, the plot was fine, but the filming was so formulaic that this one is really a chore to sit all the way through.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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