Saturday, June 27, 2009

New in Town

I've put off writing this review, because I have nothing good to say about it: New in Town is just dreadful. However, no length of time is going to soften that reality.

The characters are stereotypical. The plotline we've seen before: stuffy only-career-matters female executive comes to small town to streamline process and fire many when she falls in love with the town and someone particular in it. We like the actors, Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr, and while they bring their considerable charm to the project, they can't overcome these thin characterizations.

There is one bright spot to the movie: the supporting cast of this tiny little Minnesota town. Their dialogue feels real, they feel real, and they're genuinely funny and even heartwarming. J.K. Simmons especially shines, but then, he does in everything. You just can't stereotype the guy. However, the women of the community are the real stars. They're just not in the movie enough.

And the movie isn't about them, unfortunately. It's about a woman who sees the error of Zellweger's character's ways in her ambition, and scene after scene of her trying to walk through snow in stilettos. If we saw a little more of the character's actual work to set up the fall, the whole movie might've worked better. But we don't. We get two minutes of Renee in a board meeting where, because she's late, she's handed this assignment. There's no chance to get a sense of what this woman is really like.

Where's the Renee Zellweger we really like? We never get a chance to really like this character. And you've come to expect a certain degree of professionalism and, indeed, competence in her acting. It's not here, and neither, apparently, is her ability to pick a director or project that will actually work.

Thumb's down.


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