Reviewed by: Ed Cox
|Featuring||Gene Hackman (Runaway Jury, Behind Enemy Lines, The Royal Tenenbaums)
Ray Romano (Ice Age)
Christine Baranski (Marci X)
Marcia Gay Harden (Mona Lisa Smile, Mystic River, Space Cowboys)
Fred Savage (Austin Powers in Goldmember, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Rules of Attraction)
|Director||Donald Petrie (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days)
Written by: Tom Schulman (Holy Man, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Medicine Man, What About Bob?, Dead Poets Society)
|Producer||Marc Frydman, Basil Iwanyk, Tom Schulman|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox|
After a stint as the most popular president in history, the Monroe “Eagle” Cole (Gene Hackman) retires to the small New England of Mooseport. His arrival to the town coincides with the demise of the previous office holder, prompting city officials to encourage the former president to take the job. Meanwhile, the local hardware store owner Handy Harrison (Ray Romano) opts to run against him.
The plot line runs fast and furious through the election process by tracking the exploits of our two characters as they vie for the attention of the same girl. This triangle is the launch point for the gags, sub-plots and general weekend tour of Maine.
This movie grabbed the PG-13 rating by the horns and wrestled it to the ground in a stupendous victory. While visiting Mooseport, Hollywood has returned to a time when the issuance of cuss words is supposed to be funny—despite the fact that writing such dialog takes little talent. The remainder of the PG-13 rating is well deserved with “some brief sexual comments”—the comments may be brief in their own right, but there were enough of them to salt the entire bag of popcorn. Oddly, the nudity referenced in the rating line is the backside of a naked male jogger (frontal always behind something, a la “Al” rearward never hiding behind anything at all) whom the local residents don’t seem to notice save for his socks.
There are no bedroom scenes and only two closed mouth kisses; however don’t get the idea this is a family movie. There are numerous sexual references entwined in the dialog; open discussion of sexual relations between Handy Harrison and Sally Mannis (Maura Tierney) is just one multi-event example of the characters’ need to “relate” before “marriage.”
See: Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
Eagle Cole brings in the best and brightest minds from his previous campaigns, all with the intention of finding the dirt on Handy to turn that to political gain. The FBI and CIA are consulted to no avail. When it turns out that Handy is just what he seems (a nice honest guy), the political team is stumped momentarily as to what to do. While Handy is just that, he is a wandering soul whose life is focused on the next date and the day’s work. This lack of purpose in life causes him grief in how to address the election issues as well as how to woo the girl. Eagle on the other hand never clearly comes to grips with “once a politician, always a politician.”
The other main spiritual issue that is dealt with a secular hand in the movie is that of marriage. Eagle Cole is looking desperately to find a way to escape the clutches of his ex-wife with some cash still in hand. Handy Harrison is to daft not to see his lack of commitment is the reason his life is just an ambling journey. In the end, both find better situations than when they started the movie, but respect for the institution of marriage and God’s plan for man and woman are definitely not a part of the script.
See: Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer
So we have Ray Romano (sorry, not everyone loves Raymond) attempting continue his leap from stand-up comedy (where you take him for a few minutes) to TV (where you take him for 24 minutes plus commercials) to a feature length film (where you begin to beg your partner to take you somewhere else). His seatmate in the film, Gene Hackman, is best known for his comedic role in Superman (“the greatest criminal mind”), which means this movie is desperately seeking laughs. Billed as a comedy, offered as a high tension “who’s gonna win the election, girl, etc.,” it misses both marks badly. A lame movie might still be able to walk out of the theater, this one had to have help. Tongue in cheek—for those in Mooseport, a class-action suit might be in order.
Comments received from young people: