It’s a juicy premise: The most popular President of modern times retires to his summer home in the tiny town of Mooseport, Maine and ends up running for mayor against the handyman who owns the local hardware store — and dating his girlfriend, too.
And it’s an even juicier cast, with two Oscar winners and three top talents from television: Gene Hackman as former President Monroe Eagle Cole, Marcia Gay Harden as his longtime aide, Ray Romano (“Everyone Loves Raymond”) as “Handy” Harrison, Maura Tierney (“ER”) as the veterinarian who has been dating Handy for six years and is getting tired of waiting for him to propose, and Christine Baranski (“Cybill”) as Cole’s ex-wife.
So, if the script never rises above the sitcom level, at least the lines are delivered by people who are so good they almost seem like wit. Romano makes a respectable transition from television to film, and if he looks uncomfortable in the love scenes, at least that works with the character. Hackman is sheer pleasure, showing us everything that made Cole want to be President, get to be President, and succeed as President. There are some nice low-key details and some sly digs at modern politics and celebrity. But please, can we now have a moratorium on guys-who-can’t-take-risks-or-commit plot lines? And shrewish she-got-the-mine-I-got-the-shaft first wives? And long-suffering-but-devoted-aides-de-camp with a crush on the boss? And cutesy old folks who use terms like “booty poodle?”
Parents should know that the movie has some crude humor and non-sexual nudity (rear view of a nude male jogger). Characters drink in response to stress and get tipsy and there is a marijuana joke. Characters use brief strong language and there is some comic violence.
Families who see this movie should talk about their own elected officials and whether they would ever like to run for office.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy My Fellow Americans and Guarding Tess.