Director: John Slattery
Starring: Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Micah Stock, Nick Mohammed, Happy Anderson, Mary Holland
Apparently the events of John Slattery’s Maggie Moore(s) are based on true events. To what extent the truth resides in the film is unknown, however, the premise is certainly intriguing. Two women, both named Maggie Moore, are murdered within a week, sending the local police officers into a wild goose chase to find the killer(s). The set up is there for an enticing murder mystery set against the backdrop of an isolated desert town, along with a tidily talented cast.
The enticing nature is soon stripped away when the murders are shown early on…as well as the perpetrators. Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if the remaining story and dialogue focusing on the investigation was strong, however, it is not. Seeing Jon Hamm’s Jordan and Nick Mohammed’s Reddy bumble through their investigation became middling very quickly as it fought for screen time over a sweet, though misplaced, romance angle and a tedious subplot regarding dodgy dealing and mouldy foods. The battle for supremacy between these threads derailed the film to the point where it became a bit daft. Had Maggie Moore(s) focused solely on the murder mystery as a whodunit, we’re looking at a stronger film given the ingredients at hand, instead we are forced into following characters who are, frankly, rather lame.
Jon Hamm and Tina Fey’s experience and talents shine through here, both are versatile and both generally get the memo, and whilst their romance subplot does feel as if it is plucked from another movie, they both sell it well. I do enjoy Nick Mohammed in Ted Lasso but I can’t help but feel like he is acting in another movie here - another aspect of Maggie Moore(s) that just does not gel. It’s not a Nick Mohammed issue, he is fine here, but the humour and tone of the character is awry. Like many aspects of the film, the performances are, at worst, simply decent.
Visually Maggie Moore(s) is interesting, there is enough variation in locations to at least ensure it doesn’t become stale in that regard. It’s a shame that the film is undercooked and underdeveloped in many other ways. The dialogue isn’t snappy or sharp enough, the tension isn’t palpable enough, the mystery isn’t interesting enough, and the characters aren’t affable enough.
Maggie Moore(s) had the potential to be a genuinely intriguing black comedy whodunit, instead it ended up as a generally unfunny slog with no mystery to keep things exciting, but plenty of lacking subplots.
MAGGIE MOORE(S) had its world premiere at Tribeca Festival on June 12th, 2023.
June 12th 2023