Old Ideas in New Clothes
What do "Local Hero" and "Doc Hollywood" have in common? They both have a storyline which features a career minded person end up in a small backwater town and find the quirky nature of small town life alien to them but end up falling in love with it. I could go on because this idea has been used more times than I care to remember and you can add "New in Town" to the list as it recycles the same idea. As such there is little if anything which isn't obvious about "New in Town" as we watch career focussed business woman Lucy Hill show up in New Ulm, Minnesota and ending up not only falling in love with the people but also, yes you guessed it with a man as she realises what is important in life. And sadly all of this is not only routine but shallow and any chance of delivering depth and meaning is ignored in favour of routine humour and an obvious ending. It's not by any means terrible but "New in Town" is not the best example of this sort of movie and is certainly not new in movie town.
Career focussed Lucy Hill (RenÃ©e Zellweger - Appaloosa) is dispatched from sunny Miami to go to chilly New Ulm, Minnesota to over see the automation of a manufacturing plant and lay off part of the workforce. Not only does Lucy find the weather cold but also the reception from some of the towns folk who unaware of the lay offs make her less than welcome, going out of there way to make life difficult for her. But slowly not only does Lucy come to love the quirky and nosey people she meets; she also falls for Union rep Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr. - P.S. I Love You). But with her bosses changing their plans and wanting her to close the plant down completely Lucy finds herself torn between career and her new friends.
"New in Town" is such a routine movie that it goes through its 3 stages without serving up anything new. The opening stage is watching Lucy struggle with small town life, the freezing weather, the quirky, nosey locals and what appears to be a gang mentality against her. None of which delivers anything you don't expect from humour about it being freezing cold, to religious locals prying into her business and being shocked by her cold, business like attitude.
As night follows day this opening stage leads to Lucy basically growing to appreciate small town life, whilst falling for union rep Ted and understanding what the manufacturing plant means to everyone. The sentiment is turned up as we have what is meant to be a heart warming carol singing scene as the whole town march down to the town's Christmas tree and the humour of Lucy falling for Ted is also increased. And of course we have Lucy trying to hide the truth from her nosey secretary as part of the reason for her being in town is to lay off some workers as the plant is automated.
And it gets no better as having truly fallen in love with the town and the people she ends up fighting their cause as she tries to save the day. Basically every ounce of "New in Town" is routine with not a single surprise along the way which pretty much extends to the humour and romance as well as old gags are rolled out. And movie which has someone being shot in the buttocks is not exactly breaking new ground when it comes to the humour.
And like with everything else being routine so are the performances especially from Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. who deliver the minimum of what is expected. In fairness their characters are not exactly that dimensional and so other than smile, laugh and make an occasional fool of themselves there isn't a lot that they could do. And whilst the likes of Siobhan Fallon, Frances Conroy and J.K. Simmons go over board and try and make their quirky characters funny in some cases it ends up being too annoying rather than amusing.
What this all boils down to is that "New in Town" is basically a collection of old ideas dressed up in new clothes but never fails to make it feel new or different to what has been done before. It's not terrible, in fact "New in Town" does put a smile on your face but it is also forgettable and most certainly not the best example of a storyline which sees a career minded business person fall in love with small town life.