Ray Romano makes his live-action film debut in the 2004 film Welcome to Mooseport, a nice enough film that is enjoyable enough, but not very memorable. How unmemorable is it? I like to open my film and game writeups with a quote, but I cannot even remember any of the movie's dialogue. Ray plays Harold "Handy" Harrison, the owner of the local Ace Hardware store in sleepy Mooseport, Maine. He's pretty content with his life and spends his days working hard at his job, playing golf, and being completely clueless about what his girlfriend, the local veternarian, wants out of life. Sound familiar? The majority of "famous name" actors in Mooseport all come from some of your favorite television programs, and as such they tend to play pretty much the same characters that made them famous in the first place. There's no surprises here and everything plays out the way you expect; the movie even lifts gags from old episodes of The Simpsons.

The story begins with Gene Hackman as former President of the United States Monroe "Eagle" Cole (everyone has a nickname in this movie) moving to the little town of Mooseport as a way to escape from his alimony-hungry ex-wife. He's resting on his laurels and considering his post-administration options: lecture tours, book deals, a 40,000 sq. ft. presidential library, and much more that stands to earn him millions upon millions of dollars. His ex-wife wants half of whatever he earns, plus the vacation home they owned together... the same home he's currently living in up in Mooseport. Meanwhile, the local town council is looking to replace their recently-deceased mayor and realize that Cole would make the perfect mayor, plus he'd bring one heck of a public relations boost to the tiny town. Cole reasons that if he were to become the mayor, than his mansion would be spared from his ex's "greedy claws" because it would become his place of business in addition to residence. While all of this is going on, Handy decides to run for mayor also, partly because he wants to do what he can to help the town, but also to impress his long time girlfriend, Sally Mannis, who, angry at not being proposed to by now, has begun to date Cole (ah, pardon me - The Eagle. Cole insists on being called The Eagle by just about everyone around him). Add to all of this a town full of opportunistic, casual people that come straight from the film State and Main and you pretty much have a standard plot that basically serves solely to spring Romano from the world of television up to the big screen. Is the world ready for Ray Romano, film star? If the opening box office is any indication, perhaps not. The film opened in fourth place, falling behind the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore film 50 First Dates and movies such as Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Miracles. Welcome to Mooseport is very much a piece of cinematic fluff, but it's enjoyable fluff and definitely worth a viewing if you get the chance.



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