Mooseport (9/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

The way I figure it, any movie with Gene Hackman can’t be all bad. Here he plays a former President of the United States, (Monroe Cole) who has an ex-wife, Charlotte (Christine Baranski) who wants all his money, who moves into his Summer White House in Mooseport but immediately finds himself hustling the girl friend, Sally Mannis (Maura Tierney) of the local hardware store owner, Handy Harrison (Ray Romano) and inadvertently gets thrust into running for Mayor against Handy. Handy loves Charlotte and can’t figure out why she’s acting the way she’s acting. She can’t figure out why he doesn’t ask her to marry him after a six-year courtship, so when Monroe hits on her, she accepts a date. This inspires Handy to take Monroe on in the race for the Mayoralty and the match is on as they compete, not only for the Mayor’s job, but for Sally, both in the ballot box and on the golf course.

But this movie doesn’t depend on Gene Hackman, who is charming and probably gives a fairly accurate portrayal of an ex-President. Everyone’s terrific! Tierney is beautiful, being exceptionally feminine to Handy’s perplexion. Baranski is a shrewd shrewish ex-wife who comes to help Handy run against Monroe. Romano is just reprising his TV role as Raymond, complete clueless about how women act and think, and that’s pretty good. As if that’s not enough, there’s Rip Torn, now a full-fledged comedian, thanks to Larry Sanders, who plays Bert Langdon, Monroe’s campaign consultant. Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Grace Sutherland, Monroe’s Chief of Staff, takes a turn at comedy and comes through unscathed.

I do have one major criticism, however. They don’t make the relationship between Handy and Charlotte clear at the outset. I thought they were married. So what followed didn’t make much sense to me. And when Charlotte accepts a date from Monroe, it seemed to me odd that she’d cheat on her husband like that. It wasn’t until well into the film that it became clear that they had a long term relationship, not a marriage, and what was bugging Charlotte was that Handy never asked for her hand.

Directed by Donald Petrie from a script by Tom Schulman, this is a delightful romantic comedy. Normally I think that 110 minutes is too long for any movie, much less a comedy, but this moves along at a good pace, which kept me from ever looking at my watch.

February 19, 2004

The End