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New in Town

A flat, formulaic and annoying comedy. Oh, and predictable, too.


Looking like something that might have been made 50 years ago, there is nothing even remotely "new" about New in Town. Lucy (Renee Zellweger) is a big-city Miami career woman sent by her company to check out a small town Minnesota plant and devise a plan to downsize it. Almost immediately she locks heads with the local Union rep, Ted (Harry Connick Jr, ) and further alienates the folksy employees who "all tawk like theeese doncha know" by instituting firings and a new streamlined work ethic. Things get dicey when initial conflict turns into romance (surprise!) between Ted and Lucy, and her bosses inform her she must shut down the entire plant, putting everyone out of work.


In the right role, Zellweger can be compellingly offbeat. Not here. She's not miscast but woefully lacking any kind of chemistry with Connick Jr., who played the same kind of role on Broadway in The Pajama Game and seems to be going through the motions this time, and without the songs. Particularly painful are moments when Zellweger tries way too hard to be funny, giving us the "ick" factor instead. The banter between the pair could have come out of any '30s screwball comedy updated with all the comic panache of a low-rent sitcom.


Considering the film represents Danish director Jonas Elmer's American debut, and because we think of ourselves as a kind and understanding critic we can chalk up its shortcomings to translation problems. Oh … plus a total and complete lack of invention and originality. What is supposed to be a light, fluffy comedy is shot in such a dark and dreary style that it's downright depressing. Minnesota's tourism office should sue.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.