Hidden Gems: 2004 Movies Worthy of Some Love…But Not Individual Posts

As we here at GWW reflected on the Red Sox fantastic 2013 campaign, we realized that October 2014 will mark ten years since our beloved BoSox broke the Curse in the fateful fall of 2004. As a result, we felt old. In an attempt to feel even older, we will from time to time remember other favorites celebrating their tin anniversary in 2014. Remember, the next ten years could be even better, but don’t get your hopes up.

Hybrid post alert!!! These two movies are very hidden from many people, but they each have some redeeming qualities that make them worthy of your channel-surfing attention. Plus, they’re both coming off of fairly recent birthdays, so be nice!

Welcome to Mooseport



I may or may not be the only person in the moviegoing world who finds this movie worth commemorating. Movies that gross less than half their budget usually have some shortcomings, and this one is no exception. It is not unforgettable, but it is underrated, predictable but witty and original. It could fit into our Lost Hours section, but I very well could be the only person who lasted more than one single hour with this movie, which is sad. Very sad. You can understand why Mooseport didn’t draw huge crowds, given its eclectic cast and questionable premise, but the story and its characters actually make for a heartwarming and entertaining viewing. Gene Hackman is believable as former President Monroe “Eagle” Cole, and Ray Romano was probably Handy Harrison in another life. Their patronizing diplomacy and affable awkwardness, respectively, help augment the ridiculous conflict that drives the story: the mayoral race into which they thrust themselves in an effort to win Sally’s (Maura Tierney’s) heart. The movie thrives on this pettiness — small jokes and small problems lead to major developments and drama. The movie slips at times in its slot as a romantic comedy, but it manages to mock our nation’s politics consistently, poking fun at everything from debates to ex-wives to cheating on the golf course. Actually, the golf match (Excuse the video quality…the film is not exactly an internet juggernaut.) between Cole and Harrison is probably why part of me loves this movie. Don’t you want to see the leaders of our nation and world settling scores on the links? Putin vs. Obama at Congressional? Sign me up. Kim Jong-un vs. John Kerry at your local muni? We all want this. Make it happen, leader people.

More important than all this, Donald Petrie’s work has a Golden Trifecta of movie greatness alongside Hackman and Romano: Fred Savage, Rip Torn, and June Squibb. FRED SAVAGE, RIP TORN, AND JUNE SQUIBB ARE ALL IN THIS MOVIE. The awesomeness of the first two goes without saying, but now you can pretend you knew about Squibb before Nebraska (no one seemed impressed with my knowledge of her Mooseport role during Oscar season). Savage is Monroe’s task boy and Torn his strategic advisor, brought in to overwhelm the innocent people of the coastal Maine town. Those people are truly what make the movie worthy of half of a post. Torn and Savage and Hackman make for fun conflict, but Squibb and Romano and the other townspeople provide a genuine take on small-town living, with each citizen seeming somewhat familiar and realistic — even Romano, who definitely looks as much like he belongs in a hardware store as he does in Hollywood. The personalities, interactions, and storefronts feel idyllic, though the people experiencing them may not be. Mooseport had big-city names but a small-town story, one made for relaxed couch viewing rather than a trip to the theater, as reflected in its abysmal box office performance. You probably won’t watch it all at once, if at all. In bits and pieces it still entertains, but it never intrudes, settling into your heart without asking you to put it before other movies. It’s that friend who knows you well enough to just give a nod when others are stealing your time, as if to say, “Go ahead. I’ll still be here when you’re done.” And for that, I thank you, Welcome to Mooseport. Happy belated birthday.


Ella Enchanted




Sadly, we missed this one’s anniversary, but then again you probably did as well. The 17th-ranked “Cinderella Complex” movie of all time, Ella Enchanted joins the film above in the ranks of the underwhelming. Let’s start with the polarizing elephant in the room: Anne Hathaway rubs some many people the wrong way. The Princess Diaries was fun but its sequel wasn’t, she plays a semi-bitch in The Devil Wears PradaBride Wars is a thing that exists in the world, and James Franco made sure no one would associate her Oscars hosting performance with happy thoughts. That being said, she has won me over at least partially due to excellent work in Love and Other Drugs, Les Misérables, and The Dark Knight Rises. I hope you can put your potential contempt for her aside, but I understand that some people may be rooting for Ella’s curse to win out in this movie.

So why even bother? Why not let this movie mire in the cinematic graveyard in which it spends most of its time? Do you need an answer besides Hugh Dancy singing? Well besides the musical fun, the story actually makes for a fun adventure, though I do admit the book on which it is based is a far richer and entertaining telling. Cary Elwes and Aidan McArdle help round out the fairy tale reimagined, as well as Heidi Klum, if only for a brief moment. Much like The Princess BrideElla offers the adventure of a fairy tale with the wit and sarcasm of something much better, but once again that wit doesn’t quite have the chance to flesh itself out in the film adaptation. I guess the point we’re getting to is this: read the book too! Neither movie in this post will wow you or make you beg for a sequel, but few films do, so allow these words to simply wash over you, planting in your mind the thought that next time you hover over one of these titles, hitting SELECT may not be a bad use of your time.



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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.