Where is the love?
New in Town, directed by Jonas Elmer, is the story of a snobby businesswoman from Miami who is sent to Minnesota to take charge of a project at a local factory that is close to being shut down. This film could easily be misconstrued as the classic “chick-flick,” but it actually isn’t. It lacks flair, romance, and originality, but the dynamic cast does an admirable job of working with what little they are given.
The film begins with Lucy Hill (Renée Zellweger) going for a jog. This same scene shows up in the ending of the film as well, which is confusing. It is not clear if this entire film is a memory or if they just wanted her to jog again at the end but didn’t feel like shooting another version. Despite this directorial flaw, Zellweger — an Academy Award winner — does a remarkable job of capturing the essence of her overly-privileged character. With this role, Zellweger is able to give her classic attitude and spunk, and it remains present throughout the entirety of this film. It is especially apparent when Lucy arrives in Minnesota and experiences snow and cold weather for the first time. In Minnesota, Lucy meets Blanche Gunderson (Siobhan Fallon), who is her assistant at the factory. Throughout the film, Blanche becomes more of an over-bearing friend than a loyal assistant. Fallon plays one of the funniest and most enjoyable characters in the film because she always has a random comment about something going on in her life. The creation of this character by the screenwriter was obviously meant to be the comic relief for the audience, and it was successful.
While at Blanche’s house for dinner, Lucy meets Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr.), a single father who is a widower. In the beginning, Lucy doesn’t seem too impressed by Ted because he drives an old pick-up truck and doesn’t live in a big city.
Despite their confrontation at the dinner table, they do make a lasting impression on each other. This is the moment in the film where the ending becomes disturbingly predictable. New in Town feels like more of a reversed Pretty Woman instead of a new film of 2009.
After some point during the arguing and drunken exchanges, Lucy and Ted develop feelings for each other, but unfortunately, the audience doesn’t really see it occur. It just happens. The director only provides a scene with them kissing on the couch to symbolize their romance. For some reason, the screenwriter and director did not think that certain points of the plot needed to be included in the film.
New in Town could have easily been a great romantic comedy, but the lack of development in the script holds it back.