Seems like Gene Hackman’s philandering president recovered from the bloody scandal that besmirched him in Absolute Power. In Welcome to Mooseport, Hackman plays the most popular chief executive in recent history—albeit the first to be divorced while in office.
Having retired to small-town Maine, Hackman finds himself running for mayor—a slam dunk stymied by the unexpected opposition of the local plumber (Ray Romano) who installed his toilets. The personal is the political: Romano’s piqued by the attention that smarmola Hackman has paid his long-suffering girlfriend (Maura Tierney). The story becomes national news—and holds interest mainly because Romano, the most popular guy on TV, isn’t particularly sympathetic here.
The bracing misanthropy is soon dissipated. Donald Petrie (Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality) debases his natural sense of cuteness with timid vulgarity. Welcome to Mooseport makes nothing of the oedipal weirdness that underlies its premise. Closer to Sturges than Capra, the movie means to satirize the TV-fueled carnivalesque nature of American electoral politics but only demonstrates the TV-fueled debasement of American commercial comedy.