New In Town

Posted on May 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

Despite the title, there is nothing at all new about this romantic comedy, but it manages to endear itself anyway.

Renée Zellweger plays uptight and ambitious Lucy Hill, an ambitious, stiletto heel-wearing executive based in Miami who thinks she can get a promotion by taking on a new assignment to oversee the retrofitting and downsizing of a manufacturing plant in Minnesota. As she discovers over and over, she is clearer on the theory than the reality, starting with concepts like “cold” and “snow.” And “factory” and “downsizing.” Casual decisions about eliminating jobs are a lot easier when looking at budgets and bar charts, not people.

The people Lucy meets in the small town of New Ulm are straight from the Ma and Pa Kettle school of movie country folk: cute, quirky, corny, colorful, and sometimes cantankerous. They are given to expressions like “Oh, cry in my cheese-beer soup!” And of course there is the handsome single dad (Harry Connick, Jr. as Ted) with whom Lucy will have to get off on the wrong (stiletto-clad) foot before discovering an unexpected (only to her) connection.

What works here is the easy chemistry between the two leads (despite the distraction of whatever Zellweger has done to her face). While it may seem at first as though the film is making fun of the locals, it is Lucy who takes most of the literal and metaphoric pratfalls. The film shows an unusual level of respect in a mainstream film for the New Ulmers’ religious faith, sense of community, generosity, and resilience. Both sides have to adjust their assumptions and discard their prejudices, but making Lucy’s journey the steeper climb gives the story some added sweetness. There may be nothing new here, but like one character’s favorite recipe, sometimes bland can still be tasty.

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Comedy Date movie Romance

7 Replies to “New In Town”

  1. I was surprised this got a PG and I was wondering when I saw it two weeks ago if it was PG then. The kissing scene was slightly heavy for a PG, but you are right, kids don’t need to see this. This is directed at adults that want to laugh at a romantic comedy.

  2. Hi Nell,
    I know this has nothing to do with this movie but do you have reviews or comments for Slumdog Millionare and The Reader? Thanks.

  3. Not yet, Michael. I am not always able to post reviews of all the movies I’d like to. I’ve seen both and thought they were outstanding and hope to be able to write something about them before the Oscars.

  4. B? Seems way too easy. In my opinion, I thought this film was horrible. Worst film of 2009 that I’ve seen frankly. It’s so cliched, so dull, nothing interesting. Not very funny, not very fun, just boring and predictable.
    Although, i gotta say this is probably the most inappropriate PG film that I’ve seen.

  5. Thanks, AKenjiB. I agree that the PG rating was not appropriate — I recommended it for middle schoolers and up. And I noted in the review that it was predictable. But I thought it was far from the worst film I saw this year. (Consider yourself very lucky you did not see “Miss March” or “Beth Cooper, I Love You.”) I liked the chemistry between the leads and the rare respectful portrayal of country people, especially people of faith. But I appreciate your comment, which will be very helpful to people who are looking for guidance about whether this film is right for them and their families.

  6. Well, i have mostly avoided horrible films this year and i do agree that the chemistry was decent, but it was just too cliched to keep my interest.
    Fortunately I didn’t see Miss March or I love you, Beth Cooper.
    i wonder if the director was expecting a PG rating.

  7. I strongly suspect they make a few edits to the film to get a PG when they saw that the movie was not good enough to get a significant audience at a PG-13. Always a bad sign! And there was material in the film that was inappropriate for a PG, but then the MPAA’s rating system is never reliable.

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