Wednesday, February 04, 2009

NEW IN TOWN: Stuck In A Rut

NEW IN TOWN (romantic comedy)
Cast: ReneƩ Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr., Siobhan Fallon Hogan, J.K. Simmons, Mike O'Brien and Frances Conroy.

Director: Jonas Elmer

Time: 95 mins

Rating: * * (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: Some scripts help to bring out the best in their lead players, others are so lame that they depend on the lead stars to find an audience. 'New In Town' falls into the second category and if it were not for Renee Zellweger, it would not have any commercial value.

The plot, written by Kenneth Rance and C. Jay Cox, is shamelessly formulaic and predictable. Zellweger is Lucy Hill,
a high-powered exec of a big food company based in Miami. She is assigned to New Ulm, a small town in freezing Minnesota, where she is expected to do a hatchet job and downsize the local plant. Of course, as soon as the slick city gal arrives in New Ulm, (the original Ulm, in case you are wondering, is the German town on the Danube where Einstein was born), she is exposed and influenced by the small town charm, especially that of Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr.), the widowed father of a 13-year-old girl, and leader of the local union.

From here on, you can almost see the gears moving to set the rom-com cliches into place: boy meets girl, boy dislikes girl, they warm
up and fall in love, a crisis happens... you get the drift.

The biggest 'miss' of this movie is how scripters Rance and Cox can be so clueless about human behaviour, that
they seem to insult our intelligence. Like, how does Lucy get to be such a high-flying exec when she can be so naive about the weather in Minnesota? Doesn't she watch the weather channel before boarding the plane? Also, the citizens of snowbound New Ulm (Siobhan Fallon, Frances Conroy, et al) are shown as stereotyped Jesus-loving, tapioca-cake-making caricatures who have nothing better to do than make scrapbooks.

Watching Zellweger's performance, we can't help but pity her for getting stuck with such an uninspired production.

: Stay away.


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