On the other side of town, local handyman Handy Harrison (Ray Romano) is happily enjoying the lucrative check he has just earned for doing the plumbing on the Presidential estate and ponders getting a new truck much to the dismay of his veterinary girlfriend Sally (Maura Tierney), who would rather see a ring after nearly six years of dating.
After Handy angers Sally by showing up late and unkempt to a date, Sally accepts a dinner invitation from the President who does not know that she is involved with Handy. To further complicate matters, the town leaders have asked the former President to be the Mayor even though Handy has applied for the job. Facing a no win situation President Cole persuades Handy to forgo the position. That is until Handy realizes Cole intends to go through with the dinner date with Sally. Suddenly, the gloves come off as Handy and the former President face off for a campaign that soon becomes the lead story on every news report in the country.
What should become a series of funny escapades simply never materializes as Romano spends the majority of the film whining and is a very annoying and unsympathetic character. We are supposed to feel sorry for a man who has basically ignored his loving and loyal girlfriend for six years and is clueless to her needs. To further complicate this matter, Handy treats her as an object that is to be bargained over rather than a person with her own need to be loved and appreciated.
Further hampering matters is the fact that we are supposed to watch the 72-year-old Hackman attempt to romance a woman almost half his age while the entire town and assembled media watch his every move. This should be an area rife with humor but aside from one joke, it is miserably flat.
There are some nice supporting touches such as Marcia Gay Harden as the Presidentís Press Secretary and Fred Savage as the well meaning but bumbling spin doctor but they are wasted in a film that is largely devoid of laughs and dull. I kept waiting for this film with such a nice selection of talent to go somewhere but it never did, Hackman is wasted as he works mightily to make something of the material but there just isnít enough substance to it.
Romano comes across as very annoying in this film as his nasal voice and whining get very old and he seems to be offering nothing more than a 90-minute version of his television character only without any laughs. My advice would be for him not to give up his day job, and for you to avoid this film.
2.5 stars out of 5
Gareth Von Kallenbach
International Association of Film Critics
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