movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by brentage5000 who says... "Once again, Gene Hackman proves that his comedy chops are just as good, if not better, than his dramatic chops."
We begin on a small street in the idyllic town of Mooseport, Rhode Island. We see the local handyman, Handy Harrison (Ray Romano), pulling up to his shop while the members of the town council put up a banner welcoming ex-president Monroe "Eagle" Cole to town. Apparently he's decided to spend the rest of his days there doing whatever it is ex-presidents do, which includes playing golf a lot (we learn that he thinks he's a great golfer, but really, it's because secret service men he doesn't know about are posted all along the fairway -- this is kind of important later). We follow Cole to his new beachfront house where a whole bunch of people are doing little jobs inside it. He is followed around by his PR manager Bullard (Fred Savage), and his personal assistant Grace (Marcia Gay Harden).
After stopping to look at a model of a library dedicated to himself ("40,000 square feet," says the architect, and at a look from Cole, Bullard says, "It's bigger than Clinton's."), Cole stops to have a "cabinet meeting" and goes into the bathroom, but he is surprised by Handy, who is fixing the toilet there. They meet and seem to get along well, and Handy exits. Later, Cole is at his desk when he is told that he has a phone call, and it's his ex-wife Charlotte (Christine Baranski), who is calling to say that she wants the house in Mooseport, which is just a vacation home. Fortunately, Grace hangs up before Cole can say anything unwise. Meanwhile, Handy finishes up in the bathroom and goes out to where his truck and some kid assistant of his are waiting. Handy looks around for his dog Plunger, and sees him with the president's dog, fully living up to his name (wink-wink). Handy yells at Plunger, and they leave.
Next scene we see is Handy arriving at his girlfriend Sally's house. Sally (Maura Tierney) is in the midst of delivering some puppies with Dina (Jessica Holmes). After the delivery, Handy mentions how since he got paid $7,000 to fix the toilet, he thinks he's finally ready to...get a new truck. Sally's face falls, and we can tell she thought he was gonna pop the question.
He says that maybe they can go out later, and she says okay. Later, we are at the town hall at a welcome banquet for Cole, and all goes fine...except when Cole gets a glimpse of Sally walking in late, capturing him. After his speech, the town fathers take him upstairs and ask him to consider being their mayor. He's intrigued, but Bullard and Grace are against it. The issue is settled when Sally comes in to get her coat and Cole asks her. She says yes, he should run, and then he should make it so that helicopters with sick animals on board can land before certain presidential planes (that happened in the beginning of the movie -- she was carrying in a sick donkey when Cole arrived). She leaves, and Bullard and Grace say that Cole will sleep on it. Outside, Handy finally pulls up, but grace just asks him if he thinks there's a problem with their relationship. Unfortunately, he says no, and she says that that's the problem.
Next day, over breakfast, Cole explains to Bullard and Grace that he's gonna run for mayor to strengthen his love among the little people of America (or something like that). He tells the council, but then they tell him that someone else already threw their name into the ring -- Handy. Cole goes to see Handy, and convinces him to drop out by using golf metaphors (e.g., if you're just starting out, you don't go against Tiger Woods on your first game to make a name for yourself...). Handy agrees, to the disappointment of his employees Irma (June Squibb), Martha (Jackie Richardson), and the crushing-on-Handy Mandy (Reagan Pasternak). While Cole is there, though, Sally walks in, and Cole starts flirting with her and even asks her out, to which she says yes. Andy is shocked and in a moment of mustprovemanliness thinking, runs out and yells that he won't back out of the race.
A couple of days later, Cole is in his study working on his campaign strategy. Bullard suggests calling Bert Langdon, a campaign strategist, but Cole says no, when suddenly the phone rings, and guess who it is? Yup, it's Burt (Rip Torn, and can this man not be cast in a role that doesn't suit him, just to break the perfection?). Burt gets down there, and they all agree that the best thing to do would be to go through with the date, since most everyone in the country knows about it by now somehow (Bullard's PR work, no doubt). Anyway, the day of the date arrives, and Cole and Sally are both getting ready (One other thing I wanna put in here -- around this time, pieces start slowly being taken away from the C-Shaped library model, making it considerably less grand, but allowing Cole to funnel more money into campaigning. Ultimately, it ends up with the Asian architect over a single eight story building sobbing). In Sally's house, Handy is talking to her trying to get her to not go and asking her why she's wearing black underwear (he sneaked a peek when he tightened her sinks gaskets, and then claimed that black underwear was "an unconscious indicator of your subconscious intentions.") She starts throwing all her underwear at him, and he eventually goes. At Cole's place, all he has to do is get his tie tied and have Grace inform him that he shouldn't order meat, since Sally is a veterinarian. At the restaurant, they are having dinner -- salad and potatoe for him, salad and a T-Bone for her -- when Andy comes in handing out campaign flyers. Sally asks what he's doing there, and before he can say, someone yells out that they should have a debate, and before he knows it, Handy is saying yes...and slipping a box to Sally. He goes to the bar to hand out more, and opens the box and quickly follows him, telling him to get out. Back with Cole, we see one of his bodyguards open the box, and inside is some of Sally's underwear with a "No" symbol on it. Later, Cole is at Sallys door -- along with three dozen newspeople -- and he goes to kiss her goodnight, but she cuts him off by going for a handshake, which he turns into a hand kiss. Handy, watching at the bar, is thrilled. Later, when he goes over to Sally's, he finds that his way in has been locked. He tries to explain, but she won't hear him out, so he trots away.
Next day, the media is abuzz with news about Cole's blown kiss. He is furious over all of it, and the fact that there's no dirt on Handy doesn't help. At the debate, the two are asked questions about little town stuff, and at first things don't seem to be going well for Andy, but then, things turn around, and he comes out looking better in the next days polls. As if things couldn't get any worse for Cole, he then finds out that his worst nightmare has come true -- Charlotte has come to town, and she's siding with Handy. He goes down to handy's store and tlaks with her, but she'll only back off for money, which he doesn't have. He tells Handy that calling in his ex-wife like this (which Handy didn't do) is really low and dishonest, but Handy responds by saying that he didn't do it, and challenges the president to a game of golf.
On the course the next day, Cole and Handy are all set to play when along comes Charlotte. She calls out all the secret service guys, but Cole isn't worried...until he realizes that Bullard and the head secret service guy have been changing things around a bit so he always seemed to be better. By the end of the first hole, the score is 15 Cole to 7 Handy. While these two play, Grace and Sally do some bonding in the course's bar, and Sally finds out the stakes of the game -- loser has to back off of Sally. Back on the course, Handy and Cole are at the last hole, and Cole proposes that they make it double or nothing -- if he wins, he gets Sally and the mayorship, and if Handy wins (which he does)...well, nothing really changes. That night, while Cole is lamenting his loss, Grace comes and says that in 2 days, 2 hours, and twenty minutes, she won't be working for Cole anymore. The next day Sally stops by Handy's beachfront shack and gives him back some stuff of his and theirs, including a lamp they once talked about the future by that he had given her for christmas one year.
Finally, we come to the night of the final mayoral debate. Before the debate begins, both candidates say they want to make a statement. Funnily enough, they both say that the other guy would be better-suited for the job, and that they'll be voting for their opponent tomorrow. This results in a big fight backstage which brings down the curtain around them and anyone else who was trying to stop the fight. The next day is the election (this is where we see the architect weeping). As a radio announcer speaks, we see Handy and Cole tending their wounds recieved the night before. We are also treated to a scene between Grace and Cole, where she explains how she admired him once, because he used to be a man of principals before this whole mayor-campaign started. She then kisses him passionately and leaves him standing there speechless. On his way to the polls, Cole passes Handy hitting some golf balls into the water. Handy advises him on his swing, and the two make up a little. At the booths, they walk in together, and then go to separate rooms. Cole votes for himself, and we don't see who Handy votes for.
The next day is the announcement for who won the election. There's a whole big shebang on the town green, and it's announed that the new mayor is...Monroe Cole, by one vote. Cole goes to make his speech, but then he admits that he voted for himself when he said he was gonna vote for Handy, and he says that Handy should be the mayor. Handy then corrects Cole though, saying that he voted for himself too, so Cole really won fair and square and is the rightful mayor. Cole is then pulled aside and is told that they've located Grace, who was missing earlier, at the airport. We switch to the airport, and we see Grace boarding a plane for Dallas, but she and the other passengers are stopped when a stewardess says that the plane is delayed. Suddenly Cole comes out from the airport and convinces Grace to stay. When he's done, he nods to the secret service agent beside him, and he speaks into his radio, clearing the plane and explaining that he apparently has some pull in this town now that he's mayor.
Elsewhere, we see Handy hanging out in front of Sally's house with a wedding ring. He is rehearsing what to say when some old guy who can't speak without shouting comes up behind him saying that he should have won. The guy leaves, and Handy quickly looks around realizing that he dropped the ring...into the sewer! He gets down and tries to grab it, but it remains just beyond his reach. Just as he almost has it, Sally comes up with two dogs she's been walking at different points throughout the movie and asks what he's doing. He grabs the ring -- and a handful of dirt -- and says that he loves her and she's beautiful and smart and he isn't and basically asks her to marry him, even though the ring is kinda dirty, and there's some diamonds on the side, but the dirts covering them, and--he gets cut off by a big "yes" kiss from her (He also admits that he really voted for Cole and not himself). They head inside, but when she "lightly taps" him on the shoulder, he goes flying off the porch. He lands in the bushes and tries to convince her that she's a lot stronger than she thinks, and that he's now hurting both physically and emotionally. Some time later, we see Sally in the shop looking at wedding dresses with Irma when who should come in but good old Burt. He goes up to Handy and asks him if he'd be interested in a governorship. Handy says no, but then he calls Burt back and asks if as governor, he could tell a mayor what to do. Burt says yes, and Handy smiles...until yet another hard punch from Sally brings him back to reality and him saying that he was just kidding.