ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  donald petrie

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  110 minutes

RELEASED  -  20 february 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  mooseport

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $26,000,000
welcome to mooseport - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from welcome to mooseport at

buy the dvd from welcome to mooseport at

a us president who has been defeated in his bid for re-election returns to his hometown of mooseport, maine and decides to run for mayor against another local candidate.


poster from welcome to mooseport
buy the poster

other titles suggested for this film included beat the eagle and simply mooseport.


picture from welcome to mooseport

picture from welcome to mooseport

picture from welcome to mooseport

picture from welcome to mooseport


one out of four possible stars

Ray Romano is a talented comedian, as the awards his popular television show, Everybody Loves Raymond would attest. Gene Hackman has conquered both the dramatic and comedic arenas in multiple feature film triumphs over a decades-long career. That both these men have talent in front of the camera cannot be disputed. But when they appear together on screen in the political comedy, Welcome To Mooseport, there is an uneasy chemistry between the two that prevents their interaction from becoming naturally hilarious. It's as if the jokes in this film were written with great effort and during their trip to the screen, something was lost.

Beyond the story's truly predictable trot (which should hardly doom a picture whose greatest draw is in its one-liners), the jokes don't necessarily seem used and abused as much as they seem forced. Gene Hackman is truly an intense actor and whether he is performing in a dramatic capacity or as someone filled with jokes, he is usually so much more natural a presence. And the same can be said for Ray Romano, whose famous personality on the small screen seems to be an extension of his real-life personality, thereby allowing his comedy to find a familiar and proper rhythm.

Most of the jokes that are funny in this film can be seen by anyone who has access to the movie trailer. If you see the two and a half minute theatrical trailer for Mooseport, you've seen ninety percent of the successful one-liners. Ironically, the entertaining jokes not included in the trailer usually come from the supporting cast, with Jackie Richardson (playing a fiery employee in Romano's hardware store) as the stand-out comedian in the film. She doesn't even have to speak to get a laugh and when she does speak, her entire demeanor just exudes hilarity.

Other members of the supporting cast, including Marcia Gay Harden, playing Hackman's long-time personal assistant, also perform well in their roles, beefing up the thin comedy with their varied deliveries. Christine Baranski, playing Hackman's ex-wife and the former First Lady, need but open her mouth to assail the audience with her intense brand of comedy, but her outbursts are welcome in the usually soft-spoken film. Maura Tierney, in her role as Romano's long-term girlfriend, performs a steady character in her usual quiet way, though it would have been beneficial for the film's emotional core if she had raised her voice a few decibels during various arguments in the film.

If one is to forgive a film's unsurprising plot, the film's performances and comedy should be able to fill that void. But in Welcome To Mooseport, that void seems just too large for anyone to fill. Leads Romano and Hackman are just not at the top of their game (although Hackman definitely has an easier time in his role). It's safe to say that viewers of this movie might have a tendency to laugh at the screenwriters rather than with the characters, which doesn't speak well for the jokes written specifically for this film. Ingenuity regarding plot and dialogue exchanges seems to be an element completely missing from the script, and given the shaky casting, a strong script might have pumped up the less than stellar interactions by the lead actors.

Scanning the various technical merits of the film will show no real faults as the cinematography and editing are sufficient and are what one would expect from this genre. And while the musical score has seen its days on screen in multiple like-themed films, it doesn't intrude too harshly into the emotions of the characters. Sometimes a score is used so heavily (in place of palpable or realistic actor emotion) that its intent, to sway the audience's emotions this way or that, is lost in heavy sweeps of orchestral loudness. And while there is some subtle musical manipulation in various serious scenes in the film (as is to be expected), the music in no way drowns out the characters completely.

Though the characters themselves are not as harebrained as perhaps they should be. "Painfully unfunny" would be too harsh a label to slap on this film. But neither is it in any way hilarious. The basic story of the film seems like it would elicit a great deal of comedy stemming solely from the interaction between the country folk and the city people, but with so much bland interaction between Romano and Hackman, it's evident that the story just wasn't served as well as it could have been. This film would serve well as a video rental for pizza night when one wouldn't have to break the bank at the box office in order to view the film. Its talented actors aside, this film just isn't that funny. And in the world of comedy, a film full of jokes that aren't funny is this movie's greatest failing.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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