The spotty “fish out of water” romantic comedy New in Town, directed by the Danish director Jonas Elmer, is amiable and endearing, but doesn't have the zest it needs to make it a success.
The early scenes, in which Lucy Hill (Renée Zellweger), an ambitious food-company executive in
Minnesota native Ken Rance, who wrote the screenplay with C. Jay Cox, affectionately mocks his fellow Gopher Staters, who talk in exaggerated “Fargo” accents (anyhoo, you betcha!) and enjoy ice fishing, snickerdoodles, scrapbooking and talkin’ ‘bout Jesus. Lucy’s guide to New Ulm (the movie was actually filmed in
Naturally, it’s hate at first sight between Lucy and Ted, which inevitably turns to love as the movie succumbs to the hoariest of
The movie has a strong beginning and a triumphant ending, but the stuff in the middle is lacking. There’s no logical reason, for example, why the New Ulmers, so boorish when Lucy meets them — swilling beer, watching football in Viking helmets and spouting small-town ignorance — would be transformed by movie’s end into wise, lovely people. Still, the movie offers a smattering of laughs, especially at such familiar things as getting a car stuck in a snowdrift, and a talented cast that includes fine character actor J.K. Simmons as the shop foreman. Zellweger, less scrunch-faced than usual but still awfully pale for a Floridian, is effective as the exec in the sky-blue power suits who gradually lets her hair down.
Now, if they could just seat Senator Al Franken....