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new in town
Click for full sized poster

New in Town

Starring Renee Zellweger and  Harry Connick Jr.; J.K. Simmons, Siobhan Fallon Hogan
Screenplay by Kenneth Rance and C. Jay Cox
Directed by Jonas Elmer
website: www.newintownmovie.com

IN SHORT: feh. [Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. 96 minutes]

The "stranger in a strange land" template is one that can be used again and again to great results, if the story that is plugged into the template works. If the stars hired to fill the main roles have chemistry. If the audience is entranced with the situation from the word "go". In the case of New in Town, the answers are barely, no and no.

Renée Zellweger plays Lucy Hill, an executive with Munck Foods who has eyes on a vice-presidency with the company. Said company has just purchased a production facility in Minnesota, intending to automate and dispense with the union workforce. Lucy volunteers to handle the job, packs a ton of luggage (but no heavy coat) and flies north. Anybody else out in our reading audience that gets on a plane without checking the weather conditions at your destination?  Cheap laffs and as directed, not especially funny. Wardrobe gags are at the heart of Zellweger's character. There's not much you can do with that.

At the plant, dripping with Fargo-isms, Lucy is faced down by union rep Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr). Given that this pair are the only single types in town, all the workers at the plant are eagle eyeing a potential hookup. Well, of course they get off on the wrong foot . . . and of course Lucy comes to like the people in Minnesota . . . and of course a way is found to save the plant.

It's all formula and, had all the supporting elements clicked, New in Town might have succeeded as a light, disposable dateflick. It doesn't. There's no chemistry between Zellweger and Connick Jr. The lighting design of the film makes Zellweger look like a Halloween witch mask on more than one occasion; yeah, that's attractive.

Frankly, folks, we watched this film with a bunch of teevee critics, all of whom had coats on and were desperate to leave with at least half an hour to go in the film's run. We do not disagree but we stuck it out to the bitter end.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to New in Town, he would have paid . . .


New In Town is a tedious sit that flops about until a formulaic happy ending.

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