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January 31, 2009
Review - " New in Town " (in theaters) - By Roland Hansen
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New In Town
New In Town
Directed By: Jonas Elmer
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Harry Connick, Jr., Siobhan Fallon Hogan, J.K.
Simmons, Frances Conroy

One of my biggest pet peeves is watching movies set in Maine & Massachusetts
that put on overly heavy fake accents. I was born in Maine and spent every
summer on a lake up there. While rural Mainers do tend to speak slower with a
bit of a drawl and do occasionally like to go huntin' them they-uh crittahs just
down the rood apiece, ayuh! The majority of people, even those who grew up in
the area, speak basically the same as the news anchors on CNN.  I've lived in
the Boston area since I was 3 years old and we haven't totally forgotten that
is a letter "R" in the alphabet. And although we think chowdah is wicked
good the people in Bahstun don't actually pahk their cah (with the possible
exception of those people actually in the Hahvad Yahd). All this brings us to
latest Rene Zellweger rom-com "New in Town". I deal with people in Minnesota
on a daily basis, I've actually visited the rural farming communities, and I can
state that the real Minnesota accent is somewhat a little less than you find in the
movie "Fargo". "New in Town" so over exaggerates the regional dialect as to be
almost cartoonish. In spite of the vocal deficiencies, or maybe because of them, I
loved the film.
Now Minnesoooooota is always going to be the perfect setting for a frozen “fish out of water” romantic comedy, which is a
big reason why “New in Town,” the first genuinely funny film of 2009, works. Tiny New Ulm, Minn. is full of stereotypically
folksy folks, people whose conversations are peppered with plenty of "Oh, yas" and "You betchas." It's the accents,
donchaknow, You betcha!. And the ice fishing, polka dancing and hockey playing.

"New in Town" is a formula flick, a fish-out-of-water tale about tough, ambitious Miami-based executive Lucy Hill (Renee
Zellweger), who is sent by her mean old corporation to tiny New Ulm, Minn. to retool a money-losing food-manufacturing
plant. In the snowy, frigid town, she encounters a group of just plain folks, don't ya know, who are worried that this
highfalutin outsider is going to cost them jobs at the factory. Lucy is all business, and has little patience for Blanche
Gunderson  (Siobhan Fallon Hogan), her relentlessly upbeat, intrusive and folksy secretary, Stu Kopenhafer  (J.K.
Simmons), the wisecracking, folksy foreman and especially Ted, a manly union rep and single father with a no-nonsense

And as such two of her first targets for dismissal are her busybody secretary Blanche, whose hobbies are making
scrapbooks and tapioca while spouting corny colloquialisms, and Stu, whose hobbies are hunting, fishing and beer.  
Stu puts down Lucy’s lofty-sounding ideas and her jargon about “mechanization,” “reconfiguration,” “specialization” and
“dialoguing.” He can see only bad things coming from her presence. Lucy has even bigger problems with Ted Mitchell
(Harry Connick Jr.), the union rep, whose goal is to keep the plant open without losing any members. Her first run-ins with
Ted turn into noisy, lock horns head-bangers with sparks flying. Clearly, romance is in the offing. Zellweger and Connick
have a good screen chemistry that serves the romance well. But Hogan steals the show with a great sense of timing as
Blanche, pulling laughs out of her character’s tendency to blurt out the most unexpected comments. A nearly
unrecognizable J.K. Simmons (sporting a beer belly, lumberjack shirt and full beard) surpasses even his fine comic
performance from "Juno," this time playing a gruff factory foreman.

Out of the loop on such quaint local customs as Gopher Day,
crow hunting and the Ice Fishing holiday, the imperious Lucy
tries to run roughshod over the employees until … well, that
fateful encounter with a steer changes a lot of things. It’s not a
big surprise that Lucy will eventually discover the spirit of
community in people who care deeply for one another. A
candlelight carol sing around an outdoor Christmas tree is sweet.
But it’s the film’s quirky characters, played with genuineness by
an ensemble cast that make "New in Town"rise above its
predictable plot.

It leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling, which is exactly what
a romantic comedy is supposed to do. Finally, where else are you
going to see a tapioca fight? Yes, that's right, there's a tapioca
fight. If you want to see it, you'll have to see the movie. And it's
worth seeing. Seriously. Don't even go for the romance. Go for
the laughs, and give these worthy supporting actors a bigger
Renee Zellweger, Siobhan Fallon Hogan - New In Town