Renee Zellweger continues to annoy in New in Town, a fluffy, forgettable and drab romantic comedy that also stars Harry Connick, Jr. The movie isn't as bad as it is unremarkable, but it's good to see Zellweger living up to her potential.
If you can't tell, I've never been a fan of Zellweger. My college roommate had a huge crush on her for some reason for another, but her squishy eye and pouty lip acting never worked on me. She's had her moments, but toiling around in generic romantic comedies seems like a more legitimate residence for the actress than the Academy Award stage.
In New in Town, our featured actress plays a hard hitting businesswoman who travels from Miami to a small Minnesota town to oversee efficiency implementations take affect at a food factory. Frictions with the local staff and oh-so-simple townsfolk give way to the realization that none of them are all that bad and that she may actually have a crush on the local union rep (Connick, Jr.).
When I think about it, the movie is embarrassing in its characterizations of both the town folk and businesspeople. The screenwriters clearly have never been associated with either, as Zellweger's wooden representation of a stuck-up executive is about as cliché and stereotypical as they come. They handle the townspeople a little better as Zellweger does warm to them over time and realizes that they aren't as dumb and simple as she thinks they are, but the fact that they are the butt of most jokes is sort of disconcerting.
Of course, these clichés and stereotypes are only problematic because the movie isn't nearly as funny as it thinks it is. Most of the jokes fall flat, and the ones that don't are only mildly funny. As a result, director Jonas Elmer resorts to gags such as a drunk Zellweger falling off her patio or getting her high heels stuck in metal grating. Hilarious!
Furthermore, the relationship between Connick, Jr. and Zellweger seems forced; they don't have much chemistry together, though Connick, Jr. gives his best attempt to be heartwarming.
All that said, New in Town is relatively harmless, and if you are a fan of forgettable romantic comedies - and yes, I know you're out there - I have witnessed more painful shows. It is a breezy, lighthearted film that only succeeds because it takes no risks. New in Town is ultimately dull, unimpressive and forgettable, but hardly unwatchable.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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