New in Town

New in Town movie poster
MPAA rating: PG
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Renee Zellweger stars in this romantic comedy as a Miami consultant brought to Minnesota to restructure a manufacturing plant. Harry Connick, Jr. co-stars as her love interest.
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Harry Connick, Jr., J.K. Simmon, Siobhan Fallon Hogan
Director: Jonas Elmer
Running time: 1:36
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Editorial Review

"New in Town"? Hardly.

There's nothing novel about this overly familiar farce, a creaky rom-com-cum-fish-out-of-water tale about a tightly wound corporate executive (Renée Zellweger) who finds herself temporarily reassigned from sunny Miami to small-town Minnesota in the dead of winter. You know, where it gets really, really cold? And where people talk funny and have names like Blanche and Harve Gunderson (shades of "Fargo")?

Good stuff.

I could listen to these yahoos say silly things like "braunschweiger," "glockenspiel" and "snickerdoodle" in their flat Midwestern accents all day.

Then again, I have some important income-tax paperwork I've been putting off. That might be more fun.

Seriously, though, watching "New in Town" left me feeling as pained as Zellweger, playing Lucy Hill, looks. Throughout much of the movie, the actress's face appears botoxed into a frozen mask of misery, which melts only after meeting truck-drivin', beer-drinkin', plaid-wearin' hottie Ted (Harry Connick Jr.).

But first Ted and Lucy have to act as though they hate each other. That is, until the handsome widower and single dad (all together now: awww) happens to have the opportunity to rescue the career-obsessed singleton when her car gets stuck in a blizzard, making her reevaluate her big-city priorities in the face of true love and a near-death experience.

What, you didn't see that coming?

In that case, you'll be on the absolute edge of your seat when you learn that Lucy's company isn't just planning to lay off half the local manufacturing plant's workforce, but to shut the whole place down.

But, but . . . but that would put, like, the whole town out of work! And just when Lucy was starting to fit in with the real America!

I won't spoil it for you, then.

All others will find few pleasures, let alone surprises, here. Even the normally enjoyable character actor J.K. Simmons -- hiding beneath a bushy beard, fat suit and fake accent as plant foreman Stu Kopenhafer -- looks less like a working stiff than like someone who has entered the witness protection program.

And, really, who can blame him?

The real America, my foot. As Lucy remarks at one point, this whole endeavor looks like the world's coldest theme park.

-- Michael O'Sullivan (Jan. 30, 2009)

Contains a bit of crude language and suggestive material.