Welcome To Mooseport Review
Everybody Loves Raymond writer and star Ray Ramano makes his lead debut with Welcome To Mooseport, a couple of years after voicing Manfred in Fox’s brilliant Ice Age. Like his television character, here he plays just another everyman doing odd-jobs around the small, picturesque town of Mooseport. When beloved president Monroe Cole (Gene Hackman) sets up home in the town, the two men, through a series of unfortunate events go up against each other running for town mayor. It’s all light stuff staged around the bickering and counter-arguing between one of the most powerful men on earth and one of the most average of average Joes, and while it makes for some great moments every now and then, it’s so inconsistent the waiting between each laugh can seem like lifetimes are slipping away from you.
If ever there was a film that plagued the world with ennui, that sent cinema audiences to sleep and casual viewers sitting in their living rooms counting sheep for the sheer escapism, Welcome To Mooseport would be that movie. Despite the fact it does have its moments, Ramano’s such a lifeless, apathetic actor it’s painful to watch him, almost like an ice-cream brain freeze that just won’t go away. The film is cluttered with ‘nobody’ characters, and the ones that are supposed to be generically funny such as the foul-mouthed, quick-lipped old ladies are just stereotypical, unoriginal lifts from other, much better films. Writer Tom Schulman is no hack, he’s done some great work in the past from Dead Poet’s Society to Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, and I really enjoyed What About Bob? and 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag, but he’s leading man Ramano lets him down with his tedious performance. Of course neither are helped by director Donald Petrie who couldn’t seemingly make a full-scale riot lively and like much of his work, his films are magic eye paintings which you stare at for ages looking for that special something but it’s just never there. Yet the most amazing thing about Petrie’s film is how he stretches out such thin material to nearly two hours of ache, and since this is the most laughable thing about the film, it goes to show this comedy won’t be hanging around for very long in anyone’s consciousness.
Okay, so every cloud has a silver lining and while it is very thin and not very shiny, Welcome To Mooseport has some neat touches from Shulman’s script and the always dependable Gene Hackman. The national media’s response to the election sees the cameras and journalists descend on the small town and the news flashes make for some enjoyable viewing. The moment the president fails to woo Romano’s character Handy Harrison’s girlfriend, trying to go for the end-of-date kiss but getting a hand shake instead gets some post-date analysis in the news studio, the idea of media intrusion making for some nice little laughs. Also, the president not really getting to grips with the simplicity of normal life like when sorting out a date, ‘my people will talk to your people’ to which he gets the reply, ‘why don’t I just give you my number’. Later telling his bodyguards to break his aid’s leg after he dared to criticise him, only to backtrack: ‘they do know I’m only kidding?’ But the best scene is when Handy Harrison and the president take their battle to the fairway for a game of ‘friendly’ golf. The fact the president thought he had a better handicap than he did, only to find out his aids put agents in the trees to help nudge any balls that might fly off course on their way towards the green, make for an interesting game. But the point remains, every good bit features Hackman, and while his performance (albeit on autopilot) outshines anyone else, even he can’t save this film from lacklustre mediocrity.
This review relates to the ‘Widescreen Edition’ of the film as there is also a pan and scan version available. Here the image is excellent displaying vibrant colours and textures with definition and clarity. The photography has a very warm feel throughout with rich colouring to the quaint little American town and this comes through on the DVD superbly.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is clear but doesn’t utilise the entire potential of a full 5.1 set-up. Being, as it is, a mainly dialogue driven comedy the sound is mainly centred but dialogue is perfectly crisp throughout.
Feature Commentary with director Donald Petrie - Dry, monotone and as dull as his direction, Donald Petrie’s commentary is rather devoid of anything worthwhile listening to, and the amount of times he describes what is happening on screen will have you reaching for the DVD case and throwing it out your window in boredom induced rage.
Six Deleted Scenes with optional commentary - Director Petrie runs us through some scenes that were cut from the film
Outtake Reel - I always like the outtakes from films because they provide a glimpse of moments behind the scenes that happen instinctively and without preparation and this is like many I’ve seen before. Yet, these are hardly the funniest I’ve viewed and despite a couple of laughs, like the film, there isn’t much to enjoy here.
Upcoming Fox Films; Trailers; Commercial - Also featured on the disc is a brief promotion for Garfield: The Movie, and trailers for The Day After Tomorrow, Dodgeball, and The Clearing. Additionally there is a gimmicky car commercial with Gene Hackman in character.
A poor, overlong, largely unfunny film presented on a disc that features poor, superficial, uninteresting additional features. Try to avoid.
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