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New in Town : Same Old Formula, Good Results

Movie Reference
Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

With elements taken from Northern Exposure, a splash of Doc Hollywood, and a hint of Fargo mixed in, New in Town, a new romantic comedy from Lionsgate, falls into predictable, formulaic territory.  Yet, you can’t help but like the movie.

A classic fish out of water tale, New in Town stars Oscar winner Renee Zellweger as Lucy Hill, an ambitious corporate executive from Miami who loves her life of fashion, style, and climbing the corporate ladder.  When she is offered a temporary assignment Lucy jumps at the chance to prove herself.  What she doesn’t realize is that she is being sent to a small town in Minnesota to restructure a manufacturing plant that is the lifeblood of the town.  Lucy soon realizes her temporary job assignment has become a life changing experience.  She not only finds greater meaning in her life but also the man of her dreams (Harry Connick, Jr.).

On the surface, the pairing of Zellweger and Connick Jr. as a romantic couple seems like box office gold.  But for whatever reason they never seem to click despite director Jonas Elmer’s (Nynne) valiant attempts to create onscreen chemistry between the two.  Perhaps it is the arctic temperatures.  Nonetheless, Zellweger tries her hardest to deliver on a comedic level but her best efforts seem to fall by the wayside.

J.K. Simmons (Juno, Spiderman) is largely underutilized as the ornery factory manager.  The same can be said of Frances Conroy’s nosey real estate agent.

One character that certainly does connect is Siobhan Fallon’s portrayal of Blanche Gunderson, Lucy Hill’s perky, tapioca-crazed secretary.  Blanche, a born again Christian in the film, delivers several positive faith based lines including, “Have you found Jesus?” “We don’t joke about Jesus,” and “You’re never really alone.  Jesus understands you.”  Christian audiences will certainly be pleased.

In addition, there is a heart warming scene where the entire community comes together at the town Christmas tree to sing “O Holy Night”.  As politically incorrect as it may seem by Hollywood standards, credit must go to screenwriters Ken Rance and C. Jay Cox (Sweet Home Alabama) for taking an evangelical risk and succeeding.

Where New in Town delivers is showing the harsh realities of what life is like for factory workers in Middle America.  With the recent economic downturn in our nation the end result is almost daily lay-offs from some very prominent companies.  Yet these factories proudly deliver products that our country runs on.  The movie provides us with a glimpse into that world.

If you want to feel the chill of Minnesota in the wintertime than New in Town is the movie for you. It will warm your heart. But then again ...

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