A Miami, Florida businesswoman adjusts to her new life in a small Minnesota town.A Miami, Florida businesswoman adjusts to her new life in a small Minnesota town.A Miami, Florida businesswoman adjusts to her new life in a small Minnesota town.
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A high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami, Florida lifestyle is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota to oversee the restructuring of a blue collar manufacturing plant. After enduring a frosty reception from the locals, icy roads and freezing weather, she warms up to the small town's charm, and eventually finds herself being accepted by the community. When she's ordered to close down the plant and put the entire community out of work, she's forced to reconsider her goals and priorities, and finds a way to save the town.
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Zellweger Shines in entertaining formula romantic comedy
Though its payoff scenes are as predictable as could be, this entertaining romantic comedy is an effective vehicle sure to please Renee Zelweger fans. Well-timed to a winter release (the film's heartwarming Xmas scene occurs early in the story as an intended anticlimax preceding the plot complications to come), this modern fable set in a small town in frozen Minnesota is well-photographed on atmospheric Manitoba locations. Zellweger top lines as the fish out of water, volunteering in her high-profile Miami based conglomerate to head north to makeover a tiny food plant, cut its workforce by half and retool for an automated new product launch. She's the typical jargon-laden, fast-track advancement type, dreaming of CEO-hood and sorely lacking in empathy or any recognizable people-to-people skills. Strutting around in inappropriate high heels (closeups of which are a bit overdone by Danish director Jonas Elmer making his Hollywood debut), she quickly alienates every Minnesotan in sight and looks to be headed for disaster in a hopeless hatchet-woman assignment. Led by a warm & funny supporting turn by Siobhan Fallon Hogan (who channels the local persona even better than Frances McDormand's Oscar-winning stint in Fargo), as her local assistant, a tapioca pudding whiz who spends equal time on scrapping (making scrapbooks) and religiosity, the very cute cast of hayseeds play off hard-bitten Zellweger quite well in a time-honored clash of city smarts vs. folksy wisdom. Sure it's very, very corny, but fun all the same. Harry Connick Jr. plays the area union chief who is always in view as Renee's romantic interest, and there is also a dynamite turn by J.K. Simmons (fresh from his triumph in Juno) as the plant foreman who runs afoul of Renee's plans. New in Town is not in the league of the great old movies of Riskin and Capra, but is genuinely amusing and a fine platform for Zellweger to display both physical & romantic comedy skills. The spectre of layoffs and disappearing companies we are currently living through was probably not in mind when this light feature was scripted and shot, but it resonates as a timely, escapist treatment of all-too-painful realities.
- Jan 25, 2009
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