Review: 'New in Town'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

In this predictable comedy, Renée Zellweger plays a transplanted city exec who succumbs to the romantic overtures of a small-town labor organizer.

Harry Connick, Jr. and Renee Zellweger are shown in a scene from New In Town.

In the laugh-challenged new comedy "New in Town," Renée Zellweger plays Lucy Hill, an ambitious executive for a Miami-based corporation who ventures into the frozen wasteland of – horrors! – small-town Minnesota.

Even worse, the residents are all rubes whereas she, of course, is a city sophisticate who totters about the frozen clime in high heels. Her task is to restructure a failing food manufacturing plant and weed out workers. Slowly, she warms to the locals, especially Ted (Harry Connick Jr.) a dreamy-eyed labor organizer. Want to guess how it all turns out?

I realize that predictability is central to this movie's agenda – it's not if Lucy will succumb but when. Still, the roadblocks hampering her inevitable transformation can be spotted from miles away. There is nothing new about "New in Town."

To dramatize Lucy's transformation from ice queen to snuggle bunny, director Jonas Elmer does Zellweger a great disservice by presenting her in ways that at first are so unflattering she should probably sue. She is made to look like a tight-faced mannequin that's been left out in the tundra for too long. Nobody else looks all that good either, but then again, they're rubes, right, so who cares?

The only point of interest in "New in Town" is sociological. In the current economic climate, this comedy about workers whose livelihood is rescued by a benevolent boss represents the ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy. Don't spend your hard-earned discretionary cash on it. Grade: D (Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.)

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