Published Jan 29, 2009It's shocking that a movie as predictable and blandly familiar as New In Town is legally allowed to contain the word "new" in the title. The fish-out-of-water story, be it a big city urbanite coming to a small town or vice versa, is one of the most recycled plot lines in film and television history.
Here, Renee Zellweger plays Lucy, a Miami businesswoman who's transferred to a small Minnesota town. If you think jokes about how Minnesota is colder than Florida are hilarious, then this might be the film for you. Minnesota is depicted as such I frozen wasteland I half expected Lucy to cut open a Tauntaun and crawl inside.
Lucy inevitably clashes with the locals, including a handsome fireman played by Harry Connick Jr., before reluctantly going hunting, eating meatloaf and eventually embracing the quaint customs of small town life, which include falling in love.
In one of the first scenes of the film, Lucy argues the benefits of city life and urban culture while Ted the fireman defends family values and small town ethics, as opposed to big business. But rather than follow that track of realistic social comparison, we get a scene where Lucy can't pee in the woods and one where Lucy drives her car into a snow bank.
Renée Zellweger should know better, clearly this is Sandra Bullock territory. Zellweger is a talented actress and she tries in vain to inject charm into a charm-less character while, similarly, Harry Connick and the usually delightful J.K. Simmons can't rise above the drudgery of the script and the laziness of the direction.
All the small town characters are so thinly drawn that they might as well be stick figures. It's insulting. Oh, and how do we know that Lucy isn't in Miami anymore? The soundtrack switches from Motown soul to banjo music. I think director Jonas Elmer and screenwriters Ken Rance and C. Jay Cox owe an apology to everyone from a small town that sees this movie. And to everyone else who sees it as well. (Maple)