It’s obviously no big secret that I have a serious weakness for Harry Connick Jr. So, when Mom and I were scoping out vids for our pile the other weekend and stumbled across this one — added bonus of being set somewhere snowy, which we love — there was really no resisting it. Yes, I knew it was a romantic comedy. Yes, I don’t typically go for those (unless they also involve zombies, of course). But when you get a good one, they can be really fun. And you know what? This one is a good one.
The story is your fairly traditional “fish out of water” type thing — it reminded me a lot, actually, of another favorite of mine, Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard’s Baby Boom. In New in Town, Renee Zellwegger plays Miami businesswoman Lucy Hill, who, as the film opens, is living up her fast-paced lifestyle with a jog in the warm Florida morning before work. She then changes into a sexy skirt-suit with serious high heels and heads into work, where she’s promptly told the company is sending her to Minnesota — in the dead of winter — to oversee the downsizing of the corporation’s food processing plant in the tiny town of New Ulm.
Armed with eight suitcases of completely inappropriate clothing, Lucy gets off the plane in New Ulm to discover a whole new, thoroughly frozen world. There’s a great shot here, actually, set at the baggage claim in the airport, where the camera pans down to focus on everyone’s feet — boots, boots, boots, boots, what the HELL are you thinkin’, lady?!
New Ulm is different in other ways, too. Her new secretary, Blanche Gunderson (the always awesome Siobhan Fallon) is a frumpily-dressed, scrapbook-loving, tapioca maniac. The plant manager, Stu Kopenhafer (the also always awesome J. K. Simmons) keeps doing things to exploit her city-girl naiveté (closing the plant for the fictitious “Gopher Day,” e.g.). And then there’s the head of the union — truck-driving, beer-guzzling, unshaven, plaid-wearing Ted Mitchell. Only Ted — well, Ted is played by Harry Connick Jr. ‘Nuff said.
The story follows the standard trajectory for these sorts of films and there’s nothing all that original about it. But what makes this one stand out is that it is truly, authentically charming and funny. Zellwegger is great in this sort of role — think the opposite of Bridget Jones but played with the same sense of humor — and Harry Connick Jr., SAY NO MORE.
Mom and I both really enjoyed this one and I think any fan of the genre or any of the actors will love it too. Recommended, and a great one if you’re looking for something to watch with family of all ages over the holidays!
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cast: Harry Connick Jr., Renee Zellweger, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Siobhan Fallon