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New in Town not all that new



By Jackie Ammons     2/5/09 6:00pm

Playing on multiple clichés doesn't make a film deep or multi-faceted, it just makes the movie one big, dopey cliché with no real meaning whatsoever. Such is the case with Renee Zellweger's latest movie, New In Town. With themes that aren't all that new, the film relies on tired storylines that are simultaneously boring and cheesy.New In Town centers on metropolitan executive Lucy Hill (Leatherhead's Zellweger), who moves to supervise a small town factory in the cold climate of Minnesota. The heroine predictably falls in love with the warm-hearted union representative (Living Proof's Harry Connick Jr.) and makes friends with the small town's folk (Baby Mama's Siobhan Fallon and Burn After Reading's J.K. Simmons). In the end, Lucy not only gives up her old, flashy lifestyle, but also helps the rural town survive the mighty corporation's threats. The film makes the statement that Lucy is not just your everyday heroine, but also a defender of human rights . and of the secret tapioca recipe. How corny.

The fundamental problem of New In Town is that it plays on trite, overused conventions. Furthermore, these conventions are boring, pointless and overwhelmingly numerous.

The audience already knows that Minnesota is cold and that Lucy probably shouldn't have worn a thong to go hunting in three feet of snow; that concept isn't really all that funny. In fact, the film's emphasis on the misery of the snow reflects the audience's own misery when watching the film.

The cliché of the girl falling for the guy she had previously hated is tremendously trite. This storyline quite arguably originated - or at least found widespread popularity - in the late 1700s with Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, and, while it's an interesting, quality plotline, it should only be used in stories that deserve to use it. New In Town is not one of those stories.

While Lucy's role in the film as patron saint of the union and defender of the town's jobs may seem respectable, it is more suitable and well-received when placed in a quality-produced documentary or even a more focused Hollywood film. Lucy's stilettos and airheady character bar audiences from taking her campaign seriously. Even Dolly Parton's floozy character in 1980's 9 to 5 did a better job of expressing dissatisfaction with the workplace than Zellweger's more refined Lucy.

The one redeeming aspect of New In Town is that it has a few funny moments, such as when Lucy's car careens into a roadside ditch and traps her for hours, leading her to drunkenly tie red lingerie to the car's antenna as an SOS.

New In Town isn't a new concept. It tries to be so many things - a "cause" film, a romance and a comedy - that it spreads itself too thin and results in a mediocre story with mediocre comedy. To get the most worthwhile laugh at New In Town, the film's trailer is the best bet, as it is quick, painless and free.

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