Featuring a far better cast than the slim script deserves, the inspired pairing of TV star Ray Romano and Oscar winner Gene Hackman yields a genially toothless political satire. And where's the fun in that? Two-term President of the United States Monroe "Eagle" Cole (Hackman) is leaving the White House with the highest approval ratings since JFK; not even...read more
Featuring a far better cast than the slim script deserves, the inspired pairing of TV star Ray Romano and Oscar winner Gene Hackman yields a genially toothless political satire. And where's the fun in that? Two-term President of the United States Monroe "Eagle" Cole (Hackman) is leaving the White House with the highest approval ratings since JFK; not even a midterm divorce dented his extraordinary popularity. As part of the settlement, his piranha of an ex-wife, Charlotte (Christine Baranski), is getting their house in Baltimore. So Cole is retiring to their summer home in idyllic, small-town Mooseport, where he plans to do what most former presidents have done upon leaving office: write his memoirs, hit the lecture circuit and oversee the construction of his very own presidential library. Cole's public life, however, isn't quite over. The office of Mooseport mayor has become unexpectedly vacant after the incumbent drops dead mere days before his reelection, and the town council begs Cole to step in. Against the strong advice of trusty aides Grace Sutherland (Marcia Gay Harden) and Bullard (Fred Savage), Cole accepts. He figures that if he's elected mayor and there's no reason why he shouldn't be, since he's running unopposed Charlotte can't force him to sell the Mooseport house. Besides, humbly governing a small town would make for the kind of post-presidency PR of which Jimmy Carter could only dream. That PR dream suddenly becomes a nightmare when Cole learns the election isn't a one-horse race after all. Unaware that the former president has accepted the town council's offer, meek local plumber "Handy" Harrison (Romano) has also thrown his hat into the ring. As soon as the news breaks, a bizarre media circus blows into Mooseport, and the political gets personal when Handy's veterinarian girlfriend Sally (Maura Tierney), who's sick of waiting around for Handy to propose, says yes to dinner with Mr. President. Romano's first feature-film starring role is an obvious attempt to transition his popular Everyman persona to the big screen, and while he's not exactly Jimmy Stewart, he's not bad. But Romano is no match for his heavy-hitting supporting cast: Next to the seasoned likes of Harden or Rip Torn, who's hilarious as Cole's campaign manager, Romano's presence barely registers. Aside from the charming Tierney, there are no surprises in Mooseport, where the sun always shines on the kind of colorfully crusty characters you'd expect to see on The Gilmore Girls, and there's not a bad guy in the bunch. Heck, even the media, those perennial whipping boys, get off easy.