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Welcome to Mooseport

 As testimony that perhaps saturation advertising can be effective, we found ourselves with several hours to kill on a recent evening and decided, after recalling seeing the previews countless times, to wander into the movie "Welcome to Mooseport".  We had pretty low expectations as it was and were only really hoping to view some quaint New England scenery and maybe chuckle a few times as Gene Hackman, playing an Ex-President, relocates to an idyllic little town in Maine and upsets the local constituency balance by running for mayor against some local nabob.  We paid our money and took our chances as they say since the film didn't look terrible which, by rural Arizona, Monday night in February standards, almost qualifies it as a must see. 

We noticed that the film was starting off pretty much as expected as we took our seats to opening shots of the "down east" coastline and a quaint Maine main street scene. Then things inexplicably took a turn for the annoying and stayed that way until the end of the film. The problem with Mooseport is that said nabob is played by Ray Romano, and Ray looks so out of place on the big screen that it's almost painful to behold. We had no real feelings about the guy prior and had merely always thought of him as harmless and comfortable with his sitcom and stand up comedy status. Everybody loves Raymond right? 

Not in this film they won't. We have not often beheld an actor this completely unbelievable in a role. Romano is too tan, too tall, too awkward, not sexy, not funny, lacks chemistry with his costars and seems totally out of place no matter where in town or in the story he ventures, On the golf course, as a plumber, as a romantic leading man, as a small town guy, as a small business owner, as a drunk, it just doesn't work at all. The movie wouldn't have been great anyway but at least wouldn't have made us physically uncomfortable if say, someone like one of the Wilson boys or Jack Black or Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller, or crap even Jackie Chan or Martin Lawrence probably could have pulled if off better. All Romano does is stand around and blink his eyes and deliver bad lines in a slow nasal Brooklyn accent appearing as if he is used to people thinking him cute so he doesn't have to say much. Maura Tierney plays his supposed girlfriend although she doesn't actually seem attracted to him in the slightest so it's hard to tell if she is giving a good performance or not. Marcia Gay Harden, Rip Torn and an almost unrecognizable Fred Savage are along also as Hackman's assistants but all are flummoxed by Romano's deadening presence. Perhaps we shouldn't necessarily blame Romano himself for any of this however since he is only doing what he always does and quite possibly exactly what they asked him to do. But it makes for some bad viewing just the same. The actual cervine (above) cast in the movie Mooseport, who stands around in the streets chewing on plants, is more believable in his role then Romano and might as well have played the lead.

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