Welcome to Mooseport (2004)
7th September 2004
When Monroe 'Eagle' Cole reaches the end of his Presidential run with the highest approval rating of any departing U.S. President, he sees his future filled with highly profitable speaking tours and plans to write his autobiography, a sure fire money making hit if there was ever one. Trouble is, his ex-wife Charlotte has taken Monroe to the cleaners and she's is even eyeing up a cut of his speaking engagement fees. All that remains is his summer house in the small town of Mooseport, Maine, and even that isn't safe from her evil clutches.
But before his assistants have had the chance to unpack his belongings, Monroe gets an urgent request to meet with the town council. It is during this meeting that, thanks to the death of the current Mayor, the council want him to run as the only mayoral candidate in the forthcoming elections. Although initially against the idea, after much thought and consultation with his many advisers Monroe decides to accept their offer. After all, what better way is there to promote his autobiography for free, plus if he does become Major his ex-wife can't grab his new place of residence.
But Monroe and the town council hadn't counted on some local competition from handyman and hardware store owner Handy Harrison. Handy was unaware that Monroe had been asked to run for major so in order to help the community he decided to put his name forward. But with the prospect of facing the unbeatable Monroe, Handy elects to withdraw his candidacy and allow Monroe to run unopposed. But that is until he learns that Monroe is courting his girlfriend Sally. So begins a David and Goliath battle to win over Sally's heart, as well as the votes of the town's 500 residents, and with the might of Monroe's political team behind him, things are about to get dirty.
The picture is bright and colourful with some excellent textures and rich colour tones. However, this appears to be a typical NTSC to PAL transfer with the usual problems of colour bleeding whenever large amounts of red is on screen, whilst grain seems to be a near continuous problem. Fortunately, these problems are not too much of a distraction and the high bit-rate ensures that artifacting and outlining is kept to a minimum. The print is also free from dust scratches and other picture imperfections, although for such a recent release I'd be surprised if it were to be any other way.
For the genre of film the 448Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is actually rather good and once a comfortable listening level is reached there is never any need to keep adjusting the volume. The dialogue is clear and precise in the centre channel, there's a reasonable amount of stereo steerage at the front and the surround channels are used to good effect for the ambient effects. The only thing lacking are some room thumping LFE effects, but unless Monroe is planning on going on some sort of homicidal rampage there is little chance of any of those.
The menus are pleasingly animated and scored with the various cast members, including the local pet moose, appearing on and around the screen. However, once the submenus are selected everything becomes static and silent. Extras wise things are a little disappointing, with plenty of filler material which doesn't really add up to much.
The main extras are the Six Deleted Scenes with optional director's commentary. Most have been deleted for pacing purposes whilst the others seem to have been removed due to the actors adlibbing, even though in the director's commentary Donald Petrie chuckles away as tells you how good the scenes are without really offering a reason why they were removed. It's also rather strange that whilst there is an audio commentary to compliment the deleted scenes there is nothing to accompany the main film. With the capacity of the disc neither challenged by dual soundtracks or heavily processed picture, the lack of an audio commentary is a huge oversight which would have added much needed value to the package.
In the film one of Monroe's assistants mentions that he's been offered the chance to appear in a Norwegian advert for Soova car manufacturers. Would you like to know what this advert would look like and how to go about poking fun at the Norwegians? Well, look no further as it is included on this disc in both English and Norwegian, and in a film which is light on the laughs, this advert is probably the funniest thing on the disc. I just wonder whether this was actually a deleted scene or created exclusively for the DVD release - but without the audio commentary we'll never know.
The rest of the extras can only be described as being filler material. The Outtakes Reel only contains unfunny clips of the actors falling about laughing whilst the Inside Looks features highlight the summer 2004 releases of Garfield and Dodgeball movies. Finally, if you can be bothered to look for them, there are a few Easter Eggs knocking around. I managed to locate one on the Special Features menu, but as to not spoil your fun I won't divulge what it is or how to access it.
Welcome to Moose port has not travelled well across the pond, in fact it went rather septic during the prolonged wait at immigration. Whilst its intended American audience will understand the various presidential customs and references the British public will find very little to associate with, even if it's release is rather well timed to coincide with the 2004 presidential elections. Matters aren't helped by the fact the film has been labelled as a comedy. You may not consider this much of a problem, but in view of Gene Hackman's illustrious film career, comedy and Gene Hackman really don't belong in the same sentence. Even comedian Ray Romano is relatively unknown outside of America - although his television series Everyone Loves Raymond seems to be picking up a bit of a fan base here in the UK.
Given the subject matter, which is unfunny at the best of times, any comedy moments are a shear coincidence and other than the spoof commercial in the extras, I don't even remember laughing once. This is not a funny film and it lacks any real scope for comedy. As a result, Welcome to Moose port can only be recommended to diehard Hackman fans.
- Deleted scenes
- Outtakes reel
- Two commercials
- Inside look – Garfield and Dodgeball
- Easter Eggs