Maggie Moore(s) Movie Review: A Mess That Needs to Do LessJune 13, 2023 By Admin
Maggie Moore(s) has all the ingredients to be a fantastic film. It boasts a star-studded cast including Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, and Nick Mohammed, with the talented John Slattery, known for his role in Mad Men, directing the film. Set against the backdrop of a visually captivating desert town, the premise itself is intriguing: two women with the same name meet a tragic end. While there is potential for a great movie in Maggie Moore(s), unfortunately, this version falls short. The film is marred by a cluttered ensemble of shallow characters, repetitive humor, and confusing plotlines that lead nowhere. It leaves the audience yearning for a more restrained approach.
The movie revolves around two parallel storylines. First, we have Detective Jordan (Hamm), a widower grappling with loneliness while investigating the murder of Maggie Moore, whose burnt body is found in her car. He teams up with a nosy neighbor named Rita (Fey), who overheard arguments between Maggie and her husband, Jay (Micah Stock). As they collaborate to uncover the truth, their feelings for each other gradually develop.
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The second main story follows Jay, the owner of a deli with shady connections. Jay finds himself embroiled in criminal activities, unaware of the dangers awaiting him from the very beginning. Throughout the film, his situation worsens as he attempts to resolve his problems, delving further into a dark path.
However, Maggie Moore(s) disappoints with numerous perplexing narrative choices. The most confusing aspect is that the central mystery—who killed these two women and why?—is never truly a mystery for the audience. We witness every step of the lackluster reasoning and process, spending as much time with the culprit as we do with the police. Consequently, the movie lacks genuine suspense or stakes. Creating a whodunit where the identity of the culprit and their motive are known is tedious and purposeless. It would have been stronger if the film had focused on either Jordan’s perspective or fully embraced Jay’s viewpoint. Constantly switching back and forth between the two characters fails to evoke a sense of intelligent cat-and-mouse play, as neither of them feels sharp or motivated enough.
There are fleeting hints of cleverness in Maggie Moore(s). For example, a seemingly inconsequential detail about a seatbelt becomes significant during the final confrontation. There is also a motif of luck and chance, represented by the coincidence of Maggie’s name and lottery tickets. However, these promising elements ultimately fall short and feel underdeveloped. While the ideas presented are momentarily enjoyable, the film fails to weave them into a substantial narrative.
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In its attempt to flesh out the world, Maggie Moore(s) neglects to give depth to its characters. They all come across as one-dimensional and clichéd, lacking the complexity we expect. Jay is portrayed as a clueless fool, reluctantly entangled in illegal activities and digging himself into deeper trouble. Kosco (Happy Anderson), the large and tough character he turns to for help, embodies the tired trope of a lazy and borderline offensive caricature, whose secret is predictable. Jordan is depicted as depressed and fixated on the past, while Rita is portrayed as an insecure busybody. Each character is painted with broad strokes, easily defined by a handful of overused details.
Ironically, the characters that provide the most laughs have minimal screen time. Sammi (Oona Roche), the cashier with whom Jay frequently interacts, brings life to her role with her perpetually bored customer service demeanor and her attraction to the deputy (Mohammed). Cassie, a sweet pink-haired woman dressed in sparkles, casually discussing the explicit details of her affair with Andy Moore (Christopher Denham), offers some enjoyable comedic moments.
The potential for a captivating love story lies in the relationship between Jordan and Rita. Hamm and Fey have been friends for years and have worked together previously, which adds to the anticipation. There are glimpses of a satisfying romance at the heart of the film, evident in the playful banter and Jordan’s endearing attempts to woo Rita. However, these moments feel stiff and hollow, as the movie fails to provide a compelling reason to invest in their connection. The film informs us that we should feel sad about Jordan’s deceased wife and sympathize with Rita’s past experiences with her ex-husband, but we never truly feel it. Their courtship, along with the contrived and messy drama that creates conflict between them, is generic and formulaic. While Hamm and Fey have proven themselves as excellent actors in both comedy and drama, their performances in Maggie Moore(s) feel lackluster. It appears as though they simply went through the motions, delivering performances that require minimal effort. These roles could have been done in their sleep, and unfortunately, it feels like that is exactly what happened for the majority of the film’s 99-minute runtime.
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Maggie Moore(s) is an aimless and derivative mess. Mystery films require a strong hook, and while the concept presented in the film’s logline is interesting, it fails to deliver on its promises. The anticipated “aha!” moment never materializes, as there are no substantial twists or turns to captivate the audience along the way. It lacks the campy fun of films like Cocaine Bear and the intricate style of a project by Rian Johnson. Instead, Maggie Moore(s) finds itself trapped in a dull and indistinctive state, unsure of its direction and purpose. For a movie centered around identities, it ironically lacks a clear identity of its own.