A corporate tool, but a stylish corporate tool, single and ambitious Renée Zellweger is dispatched from sunny Miami to rural Minnesota to close the local factory. She has no personal backstory or identifying characteristics other than her Bettie Page–height boardroom fetish heels. She’s Mitt Romney in a mini, and the business of New in Town is to soften her MBA-hardened heart. In doing so, we get a standard assortment of sitcom-ready characters: oversharing rube secretary (Siobhan Fallon Hogan), gruff foreman (J.K. Simmons), and hunky eligible local bachelor (Harry Connick Jr.). The effect is like Fargo without the wood chipper. Economic pain and the downsizing debate soon cede the screen to Zellweger’s snowy pratfalls, lutefisk-out-of-water gags, and makeover montages (widowed Connick’s got a tween daughter, doncha know). With a cheap, for-hire Danish director (Jonas Elmer) and a co-writer (C. Jay Cox) whose major credit is Sweet Home Alabama, the movie wrong-foots Zellweger from the start. She’s not enough the ice queen, like Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl, for us to accept her transition into adorable Melanie Griffith. “I will not get personally attached to this town or anyone in it,” says Zellweger. Ultimately, we feel the same way about her.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 28, 2009