‘Maggie Moore(s)’ doesn’t work as a rom-com or a thriller

I have a unique name. Alise is in the bottom 2% of first names, so I rarely meet someone who shares my first name. It is unlikely that my name would ever cause me to be mistaken for someone else, but that is the premise of John Slattrey’s latest film, “Maggie Moore(s),” which you can find streaming on Hulu.

When Andy Moore (Christopher Denham) gets in trouble with his wife, Maggie (Louisa Krause), he hires Kosco (Happy Anderson), a deaf hitman, to scare her. When the job goes south, Andy hires him again to kill the other Maggie Moore (Mary Holland) in their town. As a result, small-town Sheriff Jordan Sanders (John Hamm) finds himself investigating the murders of two women, both named Maggie Moore. Along with his deputy Reddy (Nick Mohammed) and the nosy neighbor, turned love interest Rita (Tina Fey), he will have to solve the murders of the Maggie Moores.

If this story sounds a lot like the premise of the movie “Fargo” from the Coen brothers, you would be correct. It claims that “some of this actually happened” in the opening title card, but there is little similarity to the true story. Instead, we have a film that can’t decide if it’s a thriller or a rom-com, and therefore fails at both.

For as stacked as this cast is, I was deeply disappointed in the performances. While the script doesn’t give them much to work with, all of the actors seemed to phone it in for this movie. The only person who gave much to the movie was Denham, the man orchestrating the entire debacle, but he received nothing back from his costars.

All of this is disappointing because Hamm, Fey and Mohammed are all skilled comedic actors. We already know from “30 Rock” that Hamm and Fey have great chemistry, but it feels blocked at every turn in this film. The romantic scenes are interrupted by the murder mystery, and the mystery is interrupted by the romance, and none of it can quite find the right tone to make it either funny or thrilling. Additionally, the romantic elements don’t really give us any character insight that help us understand why he works the way that he does, helping to flesh out the story.

While the film is a relatively brisk 99 minutes, I still found myself struggling to pay attention. The relationship between the widower sheriff and the inquisitive neighbor felt forced and tedious. Every time it was on screen, I felt like the movie dragged to a halt. But there isn’t enough material to fill the run time without it, so I can see why screenwriter Paul Bernbaum chose to include it. Nevertheless, it was a slog to get through.

More than anything, “Maggie Moore(s)” just made me want to pull out a copy of “Fargo” and watch that instead.

ALISE CHAFFINS is a Morgantown writer who loves movies and sharing her opinions. She reviews a movie from a streaming service every Saturday and one newly in theaters every Sunday. Find more at MacGuffin or Meaning on Substack.