Film Reviews


By • Feb 20th, 2004 •

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20th Century Fox / Mediastream IV / Intermedia
Running time — 111 minutes / MPAA rating: PG-13

If you are wondering what makes a funny movie, so should Ray Romano. He does not know. With seven years on CBS’s most popular comedy series, “Everybody Loves Raymond” and a huge salary, Romano now wants a movie career.

Ray, you’ll need good writers and a director that likes you.

President Monroe “Eagle” Cole (Gene Hackman), the most popular president in U.S. history, is just out of office and negotiating a nasty divorce settlement. He moves to his country house in Mooseport, Maine. While pondering his presidential library, ghostwriters for his memoirs, and big speaking fees, he is asked to become mayor of Mooseport. He has a day to think it over. Only one other man decides to run, hardware store owner and plumber, Handy Harrison (Ray Romano).

President Cole is quick to notice the natural spun charms of Sally Mannis (Maura Tierney), Harrison’s long-suffering girlfriend. Dating for six years, Sally wants a commitment. Not getting one, Sally accepts a date with President Cole. Now, Cole and Harrison are rivals for the mayoralty and the affections of the cute

The casting is risk free. All the supporting players have done these roles before.

How many times has Marcia Gay Harden played the ultra-effective aide-de-camp, Rip Torn the aggressive manipulator, Christine Baranski the harridan of an ex-wife, and Fred Savage the frightened functionary?

But worse is the casting of the Mooseport natives. The over-acting and exaggeration of these characters is embarrassing. The fault lies directly with director Donald Petrie who makes all the characters offensive. Petrie also has no confidence in Romano. He cuts away from his star often and does not attempt to flatter or develop a decent performance out of him. The screenwriter, Tom Schulman, clearly forgot he was writing a comedy for Romano. Desperate to give color to his characters, all Schulman can come up with for Sally is that she packs a good punch. How about that senior citizen who runs around Main Street nude? This is sad, not hilarious.

Hackman actually fares better than Romano. He knows how to play easy-going and casual. He goes with the flow. He tempers his performance with charm. Hackman is in his own movie. Let’s just skip the highway exit to Mooseport.

Director: Donald Petrie
Screenwriter: Tom Schulman
Producers: Tom Schulman, Basil Iwanyk
Executive producers: Rory Rosegarten, David Coatsworth, Moritz Borman, Doug Richardson
Director of photography: Victor Hammer
Production designer: David Chapman
Music: John Debney
Costume designer: Vicki Graef
Editor: Debra Neil-Fisher

Monroe Cole: Gene Hackman
Handy Harrison: Ray Romano
Grace Sutherland: Marcia Gay Harden
Sally Mannis: Maura Tierney
Charlotte Cole: Christine Baranski
Bullard: Fred Savage
Bert Langdon: Rip Torn
Irma: June Squibb
Morris: Wayne Robson
Martha: Jackie Richardson
Mandy: Reagan Pasternak
Reuben: Jim Feather
Harve: Ed Fielding

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