Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DVD review: "New in Town"

There's not much that's really new about this Renée Zellweger romcom, which appears to be stitched together from "Fargo," "Doc Hollywood," "Sweet Home Alabama" and a host of other flicks. But like a quilt made up of pieces scavenged from other hand-made blankets, "New in Town" is warm and comfy despite its frayed edges.

Zellweger plays a corporate climber from Miami who's sent to the tiny frozen Minnesota town of New Ulm to oversee a struggling dairy plant, with an eye to shutting it down. She butts heads with the growly foreman (J.K. Simmons), and is annoyed by the cloying secretary (Siobhan Fallon, in a real scene-stealing performance), who loves Jesus and tapioca -- not necessarily in that order. And there's a hunky local dude (Harry Connick Jr.) for her to hate, then fall for.

Eventually, the cold-hearted executive from the land of sunshine realizes that these small-town folks can warm her spirit, even if her toes are frostbitten from all the oppressive snow and ice outside. There are also some timely themes about regular folks worried about losing their jobs, as greedy corporations look upon their paychecks as line items waiting to be cut in favor of executive bonuses.

Extras are ample, if a bit crimped by the modest participation of the two main stars, Zellweger and Connick. The commentary track work is left to Simmons and Fallon, who are quite a hoot, as well as screenwriters Ken Rance and C. Jay Cox. Simmons reveals his disappointment that critics described him as wearing a fat suit for the part, when he actually gained 40 pounds for what he jokingly calls "my 'Raging Bull' role."

There are also a dozen deleted scenes -- including several with an unexplained subplot involving trolls -- a making-of doc that captures filming in Winnipeg in minus-56 degree weather, and amusing featurettes on tapioca and scrapbooking.

Movie: 3 stars
Extras: 3 stars

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