“New in Town” has the same old stereotypes


Maybe I expect too much, but Renée Zellweger’s presence in a movie usually means that the main female character will be quirky, but not stereotypical. So, without reading a single review, I decided at the last minute to see New in Town.

I knew it was a chick flick, but I was in that kind of mood and really the premise sounded OK. Zellweger is Lucy, a corporate executive from Miami who takes an assignment in New Ulm, Minn. to advance her career.

The first clue of lame things to come, however, was how she got the assignment. In a management meeting about the need for someone to help “streamline” the Minnesota plant, a male colleague says, “Send Lucy. She’s single.” Um, what year is this again?

I get the idea: Lucy is supposed to be a high-powered, cold-blooded shark who is softened by the small town goodness — and Harry Connick Jr. hunkiness — of the fine people of New Ulm.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I don’t buy any of it. Lucy isn’t icy enough to be a corporate slasher and, post-transformation, she’s not soft and warm enough to be one of the decent folk.

The townies are stupid by default, which is just plain irritating. I’m from Texas and I’m used to people concluding that the stronger the regional accent, the lower the IQ. But in New in Town, playing to that stereotype defeats the purpose of the story — I mean, why would highfalutin’ Lucy be charmed by a burping, beer-swilling truck driver? Oh wait, I know: She just needs the love of a good man.

Not that Lucy is a fountain of intelligence herself — she takes flimsy little outfits with her to Minnesota and surprise! It’s cold there! And you know what’s funny about the cold? It makes your nipples hard! And if you’re wearing a flimsy little sweater, everybody will notice your nipples! Isn’t that the funniest thing ever?

Here’s the trailer:

I’m being hard on Zellweger (no pun intended), I know, and the failure of the movie probably isn’t her fault. New in Town is just a bad movie. So if you’re in the mood for Renée in a romantic comedy, do yourself a favor and rent Bridget Jones’s Diary — or better yet, read the book while you imagine Renée as Bridget. I promise, you’ll feel a whole lot better about your use of time.

Have you seen New in Town? Am I being too harsh?