WHO KILLED MAGGIE MOORE(S)??
July 4, 2023 / VVS Films
Starring: John Hamm, Tina Fey, Nick Mohammed
Directed By: John Slattery
Police Chief Sanders (Jon Hamm) unravels a web of small-town crime while investigating the bizarre murders of two women with the name ‘Maggie Moore’. He meets and quickly falls for Rita (Tina Fey), a nosy neighbour who’s eager to help solve the murders.
Written By Darren
Rating 1.5 out of 5
Who Killed Maggie Moore(s)? suffers from an identity crisis throughout the film, never quite sure of what it actually wants to be and cannot commit to a tone, creating a frustrating watch that wastes the talents of its great comedic cast.
When you see a comedy film starring Jon Hamm, Tina Fey and Nick Mohammed, you should not need any more convincing to give the film a chance as the star power alone should make for an entertaining watch. Fey and Hamm reuniting on screen alone is enough to sell a dark comedy film, and with an intriguing murder plot, this film should have been good. Though director John Slattery is unable to find a tonal consistency to the film as it bounces from being a dark comedy, a procedural drama and a quirky romance, preventing any of these plot lines to be played out to fruition. The end result is a film where you can see the potential at every turn, but is held back from coming close to reaching it at any given moment.
Police chief Jordan Sanders is investigating the death of a local woman, Maggie Moore, when another woman with the same name ends up dead days later. While Sanders tries to determine if there is a connection between the two deaths, the first Maggie Moore’s husband attempts to cover up his involvement in his wife’s murder and tries to send the police investigation in a new direction away from him.
The film’s biggest pitfall is its story. While it revolves around an interesting premise, the story never takes off. There is too much going on in this film as we follow the police investigation into the death of both Maggie Moores, the first Maggie Moore’s husband trying to cover up his involvement in his wife’s death, and police chief Jordan Sanders' budding romance with Rita Grace. While a shorter runtime of just under one hundred minutes should have helped focus the film’s screenplay, it feels like nothing happens despite multiple different storylines playing out at once. The end result is a film that feels about twice as long than it actually is, with no clear direction. It’s never thrilling or captivating enough as a procedural drama, funny enough as a dark comedy, nor giving our main character an intriguing enough character arc as Jordan and Rita fall for each other; making the film a far more tedious effort to get through than it should be.
None of the film’s shortcomings can be blamed on the cast, because there is such talent in front of the camera on this one. Hamm is the perfect choice for the role of Jordan, creating a truly humbling presence on screen of this man trying to overcome his own emotional past and opening himself up to a new chance at love, while dealing with a far larger case than he is used to seeing in his quiet town. Simultaneously playing the role very straight while having some nice little dark comedic roles, Hamm does everything he can to elevate the film beyond its problematic screenplay. The same can be said of Fey as Rita, the first Maggie Moore’s nosy neighbour who inserts herself into the investigation. Fey captures the nosy and flawed character of Rita with ease, and her chemistry with Hamm on screen is brilliant and effortless. The best scenes of the film feature the two of them, regardless of what they are doing because there is a natural and infectious rapport between them that instantly washes over the viewer and distracts from the troubled screenplay. While Mohammed is a brilliant comedic actor, he is barely given more than five minutes nor the role to make a lasting impression on the film, while the rest of the supporting cast is largely forgettable as they do not have more than a handful of lines.
While it has promise with an intriguing premise and the comedic talents of Jon Hamm and Tina Fey, Who Killed Maggie Moore(s)? ultimately fails to capitalize on that potential and results in a disappointing film. While Jon Hamm and Tina Fey give commendable performances, not even they can salvage an unfocused screenplay that cannot pinpoint the tone it wants to create, making Who Killed Maggie Moore(s)? one of the biggest missed opportunities of the year so far.