Welcome to Mooseport

MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for some brief sexual comments and nudity.

Reviewed by: Ed Cox

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Mature-Teens Adults
Genre: Comedy
Year of Release: 2004
USA Release:
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Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

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Featuring Gene Hackman
Ray Romano
Christine Baranski
Marcia Gay Harden
Fred Savage
Director Donald Petrie
Producer Marc Frydman, Basil Iwanyk, Tom Schulman
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Trademark logo.
20th Century Studios
, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company

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.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—What a disappointment. This movie is not even worth renting. From a biblical view there is some language, and some suggestive sexual content, but I didn’t find any of that too severe, like say the movie “Along Came Polly.” Quite simple it was a poor script with very few laughs. I took 10 teenagers, and they all thought it was one of the less enjoyable movies they have seen in a while.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
Bruce, age 44
Negative—Despite Ray’s huge success on the television show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which I absolutely love, he did a less than mediocre job in this film, both with production quality and morally. I wouldn’t have been so disappointed about spending the money to see it except for the many inappropriate sexual comments made by Ray to his girlfriend. Contrary to our Lord’s commands, this movie says that sex before marriage, and a marriage-like intimate relationship, is not only acceptable but it’s the norm.

There is an uncomfortable scene where Ray and his girlfriend are discussing her underwear and she is holding them up and throwing them at him. He is often commenting on looking up her skirt and sex also. I regret seeing this film… I wouldn’t even rent it. This movie sends the wrong message about boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. There are also a few shots of an old naked man’s backside which is the reference to nudity in the film. The old man seems to always jog in the buff.
My Ratings: [Average/1½]
Anthony Voltattorni, age 23
Positive—…an insightful comedy that caused me to look at myself and ask if I was that screwed up. The newly retired President who just wants to get away from his ex money-hungry wife; the towns handyman who does not know how to commit; the women in their lives Sally and Grace, who would like their love interest to get the point and a moose named Bruce. All add up to better than average movie experience. There are a few moral lessons relating to integrity and honesty and how there relationship with truth wins out in the end. The language in the movie was mostly acceptable. A few words were spoken that did not really need to be. And then there was the naked man whom the townspeople seemed to accept as normal. I did not get that and thought that he could at least have been in his underroos; it would have been as funny if not more so. On a 5 star scale I give this flick a 3 and ½.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
Hank Behrns, age 57
Neutral—From a biblical standpoint, no this isn’t a “clean” film. I didn’t appreciate seeing a naked man’s backside, especially right off the bat. Ray Ramano’s character, “Handy,” was offensive to me when he twice mentioned having looked up his girlfriend’s skirt; that was uncalled for. Also, it bothered me how sex before marriage was portrayed (and emphasized), as if it was a great and expected habit between a boyfriend and girlfriend. Comically speaking, I always enjoy Ray Romano’s humor and found him to be very enjoyable in those moments. Gene Hackman does an excellent job playing a former U.S. president. I did appreciate the fact that integrity was emphasized throughout the film. Take out the naked rear end and sexual references and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable film worth some laughs. Definitely not for kids.
My Ratings: [Average/2½]
Diedra, age 39
Positive—Aside from the fact that the film mentions some pre-marital sex, the naked old jogger (why?), and the underware dialogue (but not anything explicit), this movie is very good. Funny dialogues, funny situations, very nice scenarios, and even an (almost) president! NO SEX SCENES, NO BAD WORDS (As far as I remember), NO VIOLENCE. You can see with your teenagers as far as you discuss with them the pre-marital issue.
My Ratings: [Average/3½]
Gustavo Bastos, age 45

Comments received from young people:

Negative—Ouch. I went to this movie thinking it was going to be an instant classic. Boy, was I wrong. In my opinion this movie is not very funny at all (unless a slightly breathed above a whisper ha-ha is your idea of hysterical). And seeing a nude butt for the opening scene didn’t, um, give any special ambience? And I never want to see Marcia Gay Harding kiss Gene Hackman again. They added scenes and characters in this movie that went nowhere and had some very gross moments. Overall, don’t spend money on this one like I did.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1½]
Noelle, age 16
Negative—Why in the world did Gene Hackmen and Ray Ramono do this stupid film? Not only is it very offensive due to dirty jokes, the absolute only funny part is when rock-paper-scissors is used to determine who goes first in a political debate. This movie is trying so hard to be funny, that you actually feel kind of sorry for the cast and crew. But, no excuses can be given for the rude humor. From jokes about womans underware, to a naked man who jogs down mainstreet, all the way to pre-marital relations, this movie has it all. Please don’t waste your money on this film!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
Mariette, age 14

Movie Critics
…a disappointingly limp small-town farce played several shades too broadly by a cast that has done better work elsewhere…
Ty Burr, Boston Globe
…A predictable comedy masquerading as the tale of an unlikely political nail-biter…
Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
…tepid… exists for one reason. To see if Ray Romano is movie-star material… Unless you’re a real Romano fan, take the bypass…
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…oversupplied with excellent actors… but undersupplied with wit and dramatic interest…
Dave Kehr, New York Times
…Other than some bad language, a moderately shocking scene …“Welcome to Mooseport” is fairly tame …
Mary Draughon, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Is Welcome to Mooseport brilliant cinema? No. But it’s a comely comedy that campaigns hard for personal integrity. By today’s PG-13 standards, families could do a lot worse…
Bob Smithouser, Plugged In