Welcome to Mooseport

Welcome to Mooseport” is comical mediocrity at its best.

One year removed from the cinematic perversion known as “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” director Donald Petrie presents to the movie-going public a film guaranteed to coochie-coo the funny bone a smidgen. Starring Gene Hackman as Monroe Cole and Ray Romano as Handy Harrison, “Welcome to Mooseport” isn’t quite Luis Buñuel or Woody Allen. The film’s still a hoot, although it’s more barn owl than great horned owl.

The film revolves around the mayoral race pitting the most popular former president, Monroe “Eagle” Cole, and the region’s plumbing messiah, Handy “Dandy” Harrison, in a diminutive New England township known fittingly as Mooseport. (The community has a domesticated moose as its mascot.)

The reason for Cole’s presence in Mooseport is that the former first lady has robbed him of millions in savings as well as his permanent residence, forcing him to flee to his vacation home. After a cordial reception, the locals urgently suggest Cole run for the position of town mayor.

Considering what this might do to boost his favorability even more with the masses — and to raise a little dough for a library in his honor — Cole accepts. What Cole didn’t realize is that a local man named Harrison is also a candidate for the job. The following morning, yelps of “David vs. Goliath!” can be heard emanating from the press.

Because “Eagle” Cole would never retreat after giving his word, he beckons Harrison to withdraw from the race to preserve Mr. President’s relationship with the public. There’s only one problem: Cole has inadvertently asked Harrison’s honey of six years out on a date. As it turns out, Harrison’s veterinarian girlfriend is fed up with his failure to mouth the matrimonial question. The dash for mayor of Mooseport is on.

Like two bruising heavyweight boxers, Cole and Harrison exchange jabs, throw lunging overhand crosses and fling flurries of lead uppercuts at one another. Indeed, there is more ferocity involved in this scuffle than in Ali-Frazier, Balboa-Creed and Norton Jr.-Goalpost combined.

Then things get really interesting. A bald eagle with a headband reading “bourgeois” swoops down from the suddenly stormy sky and pecks Cole on the head. This being after Cole, dressed like a rabbi, has just discovered a pair of deceased moose in his bed.

Shortly thereafter, a bespectacled Harrison can be found confessing all of his neurotic viewpoints about romance, sex, politics and religion directly into the camera. Jesus, what in the hell am I talking about? I have really got to cut down on A) the B-horror-movie genre and B) the asbestos inhaler this dude sold me.

Anyway, begging the reader to dismiss the two preceding paragraphs, “Welcome to Mooseport” is comical mediocrity at its best.

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