Directed by: Jonas Elmer
Premise: A Miami-based career woman (Renée Zellweger) relocates to New Ulm, Minnesota to oversee the downsizing of a food plant. While there she adjusts to the Midwestern culture and falls for the local labor union representative (Harry Connick Jr.).
What Works: The film improves significantly in its second half as Renée Zellweger’s character behaves less like a snobby bitch and the supporting cast backpedals the Fargo impressions.
What Doesn’t: There is nothing new in this film. New in Town follows the same predictable paradigm seen in films like Sweet Home Alabama but it is not nearly as charming or as funny. Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. have no romantic spark whatsoever and their characters fall for each other for no other reason than that she is the leading lady and he has a scruffy beard. There is the hint of a subplot involving the daughter of Harry Connick Jr.’s character but nothing comes of it despite investing a significant amount of time on the character. This film is supposed to be a comedy but nothing in it is very funny. The gags are stupid and the jokes shift between obnoxious and insulting. New In Town is yet another Hollywood picture that portrays Midwesterners as uncultured, unsophisticated, beer chugging idiots with grotesquely exaggerated accents and business people from metropolitan cities as cold and heartless. These stereotypes are plugged into a by-the-numbers script that amounts to little more than lazy filmmaking.
Bottom Line: New in Town is a lousy film. It has no ambition and seems to think very little of its audience.
Episode: #227 (February 15, 2009)