Welcome to Mooseport

Bomb Rating: 

I think that everyone in the fictional town of Mooseport, Maine, is portrayed as stupid just so Ray Romano's "aw, shucks" style doesn't seem out of place. Unfortunately, this exposes the depth of Romano's limitations as an actor in a harsh new light. A half hour of Romano once per week is more than enough. A continuous stream of him over the course of 90 minutes is the acting version of Muzak.

In a sitcom, doltishness can be believable because the characters exist in their own little world. On his television show, Romano defines his world. In "Welcome to Mooseport," Romano's shtick is transposed into real life, where it fails miserably. He portrays hardware store owner Handy Harrison. Maura Tierney plays Sally, his veterinarian girlfriend.

When former President Monroe Cole (Gene Hackman) moves into town, the residents pretty much go apeshit. I guess it's not surprising that people in a small town would begin acting like imbeciles preceding the arrival of a popular President, but it's just not something I want to pay money to watch. Suddenly, the town is in need of a new mayor and President Cole is running against Handy. Stuck in the middle is Sally, who's sick of Handy's waffling on their future and has also been asked out on a date by the President (the first President ever to be divorced in office, incidentally).

Boy, does Maura Tierney get the shaft in this film. Her choices are a man 30 years her senior and another who doesn't bathe after cleaning septic tanks. Seriously, there's no rational explanation why Sally would put up with Handy, much less go out with him in the first place. He's a dolt and he smells. These two characteristics do not usually translate into "chick magnet."

In order to make Handy's simple nature heroic, the President and his entire staff are reduced to the role of imbeciles. The plot convolutions necessary to compel Cole into running for Mayor fall into place like paranoid ramblings from the Drudge Report. Ultimately, in a film where every single person, with the exception of Maura Tierney's character, is an imbecile, Ray Romano comes out smelling like a rose. Unfortunately, when your rose is sitting at the bottom of an intellectual cesspool, it just smells like everything around it.

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