Film Review: Maggie Moore(s) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Maggie Moore(s)

Studio: Screen Media
John Slattery

Jun 12, 2023 Web Exclusive
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Jon Hamm is so… square? You’re sure to think so while watching him portray the thoroughly by-the-book Chief Jordan Sanders in the dark new comedy Maggie Moore(s). Commendable as it is to see Hamm forgo the womanizing, boozing, and flawlessly fitted suits that helped make him a star on Mad Men, he sadly bought into a faulty sales pitch this time. That’s because Maggie Moore(s) is teed up to be a Coen Brothers-style screwball Americana noir. And yes, how could it not fall short of that impossible bar? However, it’s not even an entertaining knockoff, even if the premise is promising on paper.

The movie (directed by Hamm’s Mad Men co-star and pal John Slattery) centers in part on small town Arizona police chief Sanders investigating the murder of a woman named Maggie Moore. The twist is right there in the title: the next victim is a different woman with the same name. Jay Moore, the criminal mastermind (more like lamebrain) behind it all, gets as much screen time as the cop hunting him down. At least the actor playing him, Micah Stock (an up-and-comer with prior roles on Netflix’s Bonding and FX’s Kindred), gives it his all. He exudes sleaze as a drowning in debt fast food franchise owner who forges the worst kind of friendships, and calls a hit on his wife, Maggie Moore numero uno, when she gets accusatory.

By calling out a second hit on a woman who happens to have the same name, Moore hopes to throw the cops off, while also fending off restaurant inspectors who rightfully suspect him of selling expired ingredients to his submarine sandwich shop’s customers. Stock intriguingly attempts to make his character all the more despicable by giving him a blasé attitude as he blunders from one crime to another. It’d work if the dialogue could make you care about any of the schemes he blathers on about in one heavy expositional rant after the next. Oddly enough the hit man he hired, deaf mute hulking brute Kosco (Happy Anderson of Mindhunter and The Knick fame) wrings some of the precious few laughs out of this otherwise one hour and thirty nine minute slog, mostly by playing the absurdity of his character completely straight.

Stock isn’t the only one with little to work with in Maggie Moore(s). Nick Mohammed should be riding the momentum of his role on the Apple+ hit Ted Lasso. Instead, here he plays is Sanders’ deputy with a tendency to make off color jokes about the murders they’re investigating and the blunders in the police chief’s personal life. Audiences will find all that even less amusing than Sanders does, because the supposed zingers are so lazily written. In addition to lacking chemistry with Mohammed, poor Hamm also generates seldom sparks with love interest Rita Grace, even though she’s played by comedy powerhouse Tina Fey (who he clicked with effortlessly on her beloved sitcom 30 Rock).

Some of this is to be expected, because Hamm’s Sanders is a widower. But the leading man is clearly flailing for against-type laughs as a Type A cop who turns away a woman who asks him out because ice cream has dribbled on her chin. Ditto the scene when Hamm’s character finally meets Fey’s, only to choke on the meal she serves him because it has too much pepper for his liking.

If each line of dialogue wasn’t one flop after the next, the somewhat enticing premise and undeniable talent of the cast would’ve made Maggie Moore(s) a memorable film. It’s a shame, because Hamm’s noble attempts to try something new should’ve amounted to more. The same can be said for the creative team’s (Slattery and screenwriter Paul Bernbaum) bold attempt to make a hard dramatic pivot in the film’s closing moments. As is, this movie is unfortunately as bland Hamm’s brown small town police uniform or the pepper-free dinner his shallowly written character can stomach.

Author rating: 3/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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