New In Town
by Laura Tucker
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While watching New In Town I couldn’t help but wonder why Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. had never been in a movie together before. They seemed to be the perfect comic foils for each other, with each one getting a turn to play the straight man and the funny guy.
Zellweger plays a high-powered executive, a big city girl from Miami. The company she works for oversees food processing plants and they’re interested in one in particular in Ulm, Minnesota. They want to either close down the plant or have massive layoffs and change the product line. it’s decided that Zellweger will go and oversee the operation since she’s unmarried with kids, and it’s assumed it won’t interrupt her life as much.
The film does really well setting us up to see the whole fish out of water thing without slapping us in the face with it. We see the baggage claim area of the airport, see several pairs of boots, then see a pair of spiked high heels. After gathering her luggage, Zellweger looks outside to the frozen tundra and exclaims it can’t be that bad, then ventures out in just her business casual suit. All we hear her say is “Holy Mother …” before the doors close on her.
What they do slap us in the face with, but we don’t mind as it’s laugh-out-loud funny, is the Minnesota lifestyle, especially that of the local women. We haven’t heard accents like this in a movie since Fargo. They women sit around scrapbooking, gossiping, cooking tapioca, and praising Jesus. Sioghan Fallon Hogan does this character work to near perfection in the film, playing Zellweger’s administrative assistant. It bugged me where I knew her from, and a quick check of IMDB showed that she was the birthing coach with the speech impediment from Baby Mama.
Zellweger gets stuck working closely with Connick, Jr. as well, as he’s the local union representative and a firefighter. As with many romantic comedies, they absolutely despise each other at first, as he attacks the type of music she listens to, once she suggests it for his 13-year-old daughter, and she attacks country music done by guys that drink beer and drive a pickup truck. She helps out by helping his daughter get ready for her first dance, and observing the dresses Connick, Jr. has picked out for his daughter, Zellweger says, “The pilgrims wore sexier clothes.” He responds, “She’s 13; sexy isn’t on the menu.”
Despite the fact that many critics have panned New In Town, I sat in a theater that was half-filled with people that weren’t just politely tittering at the humor that flowed freely, they were practically guffawing. I had tears rolling down my face at one point, and I wasn’t exactly sure whether it was from laughing so hard or from some of the more endearing moments in the film. Then again, we were watching the film in a theater in the Chicago suburbs in January, so definitely understood the heavy Midwestern humor and heart.
Laura Tucker is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints, Reality Shack, and Sazze, and operates a celebrity gossip blog at Troubled Hollywood. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
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