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The Independent Critic

Renee Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr., Siobhan Fallon, J.K. Simmons, Frances Conroy
Jonas Elmer
Ken Rance, C.Jay Cox
Rated PG
96 Mins.

 "New in Town" Review 

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a major studio chief?

It's gotta completely suck sometimes.

Think about it. You authorize millions of dollars to bring to life what may, at the point of green lighting, sound like a really awesome idea only to sit there at the end going "What the F*#@ happened?"

Case in point..."New in Town," the latest Renee Zellweger rom-com that looks and feels a lot like another Zellweger rom-com called "Down With Love."

For the record, "Down With Love" sucked, too.

"New in Town" sucks more.

"New in Town" is so painfully, awkwardly bad that even Renee Zellweger fans are going to be forced to admit that this film was simply a bad choice.

Hasn't Renee figured out that, for whatever reason, she doesn't do this kind of film well?

Of course, "New in Town" also doesn't benefit from painfully unfunny timing in centering its "romantic" storyline amidst the harsh realities of a downward spiraling economy and mass layoffs.

Have I mentioned that "New in Town" sucks?

Zellweger plays Lucy, a corporate VP-in-training who heads to New Ulm, Minnesota from balmy Miami with the task of shutting down the town's no longer needed manufacturing plant.

Have you figured out where this is going yet?

Will there be Minnesota stereotypes? Yah, Fer Sher.

Will there be an "opposites attract" love match? Of course, it is a rom-com after all. In this case, It's local union chief Ted (Harry Connick, Jr.).

Will there be cute little Minnesotans everywhere?

Of course, there is.

We have a cute little plant manager (J.K. Simmons), a cute little secretary (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) and, gosh darn, we even get to throw in Frances Conroy, ya know.

What we don't have in "New in Town" is anything resembling a decent, interesting or involving storyline from scripters Ken Rance and C.Jay Cox.

What we don't have is even an ounce of chemistry between Zellweger and Connick, Jr.

What we don't have, essentially, is a film worth watching.

We've all seen this storyline many times before, and it's impossible to watch "New in Town" without remembering the numerous times it's been done far better.

Danish helmer Jonas Elmer (That made me laugh more than anything in "New in Town") directs the film with an almost self-conscious attention to the film's retro, classic stylings.

The problem? Rather than retro, "New in Town" just feels old and rather than classic the film feels uncomfortably forced.

It seems like Elmer simply doesn't have a clue about life in the Midwest, and so he grasps onto every stereotype he can find and, worst of all for a supposedly feel-good rom-com, he ends up insulting the very people that Lucy is supposedly learning to appreciate.

Whereas the Coen Brothers affectionately toyed with Minnesotans, Elmer downright taunts them.

It's not romantic. It's not funny. It's not entertaining and, dare I say, when your film sucks this badly you really have no business making fun of anyone.

The Razzie Awards have yet to be awarded for 2008, but "New in Town" already comes in as an early favorite for 2009!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic