New in Town [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (12th June 2009).
The Film

Wow, Renée Zellweger got old. Not saying that 40 is necessarily old, but her face got old. The 13 years since “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and the 7 years since “Chicago” (2003) haven’t exactly been kind to her, in the face region. Don’t get me wrong, her face didn’t exactly take a dramatic turn like Mickey Rourke’s so infamously did, but because of the fact that her face that has always seemed to look like a botox victim, any signs of wrinkles shine like diamonds. Creepy, unattractive diamonds. It just goes to prove that not everyone can be considered a beautiful person forever (with the exception of Pam Grier, who will never be unattractive). Despite with the new signs of aging on her face, her acting talent hasn’t grown up or gotten better in the least, blatantly on display in her latest film “New in Town” (2009) which is the sort of terrible, poor excuse for a film that happens at the end or beginning of the lead actor’s careers, done purely out of money with the hopes of it being forgotten as quickly as it took them to sign the contract and receive the check.

The plot is almost a romantic comedy madlibs, only written by someone lacking the sense of humor to write ‘poo’ or ‘doody’ in every blank space. Renée Zellweger (actor) plays Lucy Hill (name of person), a business executive (profession) looking for a big promotion (noun) and so decides to move from Miami (place) to Minnesota (place) to oversee a manufacturing plant (task). Unfortunately, she (or he) isn’t quite ready for the snow (noun), cold (noun) or locals (noun)! After a wacky dinner (event) and some misunderstandings with the local union representative (profession) played by Harry Connick Jr. (actor), she/he soon discovers that things aren’t quite what they first appeared to be. After becoming friends with the town (noun) and falling for the local union representative, she/he finds out that there’s a big problem: the company (noun) that sent her there has decided to stop funding the plant (helpful action). Determined to keep the romance alive and stay with the town (noun), she/he decides to save the local manufacturing plant (noun) and his/her job (noun) at the same time.

Honestly the most fun I had with this movie was writing that last paragraph, then going back and replacing every other space with ‘poo’ or ‘doody.’ There’s very little romance or comedy to be found in the film, as all the jokes and chemistry fall flat. Harry Connick Jr. may have been awesome in “Iron Giant” (1999), but he doesn’t do anything here but play the crush object for Zellweger and a part of some awkward encounters. It almost feels like the film wants to be a romantic comedy version of “Fargo” (1996), keeping only the accents and without everything else that made “Fargo” great. After a little bit of watching it turned into an ongoing debate of how much time was left in the film and whether or not J.K. Simmons really needed the money after being in all three “Spider-Man” (2002-2007) films and “Oz” (1999-2003).

The writing, directing and acting combine to form a trifecta of ineffectiveness, where everything seems to misfire and nothing works in the film. All of the dialogue is boring and has been done before, which makes the acting even tougher to pull off and when I already think that Renée Zellweger isn’t a very good actor to begin with, it’s just a giant collapse of a film. Thankfully it’s only 90 minutes long, so it’s fairly easy to push through, but your brain will try to switch itself off every few minutes in order to avoid damage.

Overall, it’s an overdone formula that just gets played out to another degree with “New in Town.” Zellweger’s career looks to be coming to an end as she moves into romantic comedy hell with this low-budget, family friendly romantic comedy that had no intentions of spending money outside of the big name stars, which becomes apparent with the use of papyrus as the opening title font. Honestly, using an ugly preset font that just comes with the software for a movie that costs more than $7,000 is a little low, but it sets your expectations at the proper, rock bottom level for a poor excuse for a film.

Video

Presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio in 1080p 24/fps with AVC MPEG-4 encoding, the film itself looks incredibly plain and lacking any sort of direction other than cameras that seem to only do coverage of the actors as they deliver their lines. The transfer itself is surprisingly grainy for a Blu-ray disc, but it isn’t terribly distracting, other than the fact that the film isn’t that interesting to begin with. Otherwise the transfer itself is fine, though all of the colors seem a bit muddied or toned down from what they could have been.

Audio

The audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mixed at 48kHz/24-bit, the audio is also available in French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The DTS-HD audio is incredibly higher quality than the sound really necessitates as the audio itself isn’t complicated. The soundtrack is plain, the levels and mixing don’t need that much movement for all the coverage that they do in the film, but somehow it has a DTS-HD mix that is almost an exercise in excess. However the levels, mixing and everything come across clearly, even though the sounds aren’t too difficult to begin with.
There are English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

The single Blu-ray disc comes with a fair amount of special features, including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, three featurettes, bonus trailers and BD-Live features.

First up is the cast and crew audio commentary, featuring screenwriters C. Jay Cox and Ken Rance with actors J.K. Simmons and Siobhan Fallon. The four talk about different details of the film, like cutting it down for a 'PG' rating, how much the town of New Ulm loved the film, J.K. Simmons’ weight gain and the enjoyability of the word "tapioca." The commentary has it’s fair share of pauses, and since I didn’t enjoy the movie, I wasn’t too interested in the stories of the writers or their motivations for the story, leaving me only with some of the joking around that doesn’t work for me either.

You can also view this track as a "BonusView" picture-in-picture video commentary for profile 1.1 players or greater, I’m still not completely sold on the picture-in-picture video commentary, and this one doesn’t help as it just cuts between just sitting shots of everyone watching the movie and talking about it and would have worked fine as an audio commentary.

“Making ‘New in Town’ in Winnipeg, Canada” runs for 18 minutes and 6 seconds. This first featurette works as the making-of for the film, talking mostly about how incredibly and unbelievably cold it was to film in Canada at the time they did the film, along with some of the writers talking about how cold they wanted to be in the script compared with the fierce cold. A lot of stories from the set about getting icicles that you get on your face. This featurette is the first appearance of director Jonas Elmer, who still is rarely seen in the featurette.

The next featurette is “Pudding’s Delicious Role in ‘New in Town’” and runs for 6 minutes and 3 seconds. Fallon talks about her relationship with tapioca pudding, all the things you can do with it, along some discussion about the tapioca food fight sequence.

“The Folk Art of Scrapbooking” runs for 7 minutes and 43 seconds. This featurette talks about the idea of scrapbooking and the film, but more about scrapbooking done by real people. There’s footage of Cheryl Rance’s scrapbook about her and her husband, writer Ken Rance, and their scrapbook about their child. There are also scrapbooks from random people around the United States, but it’s a little bizarre and boring to see how obsessed the narrator is along with the scrapbook footage.

There are 12 deleted scenes in all, and they are all self-descriptive:

- “Lucy Rents a Car” runs for 46 seconds.
- “Lucy falls in the Snow” runs for 59 seconds.
- “Lucy sees the trolls for the first time – Lucy buys a coat” runs for 1 minute and 36 seconds.
- “Ice Ballet” runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds, Lucy hits a group of ice fishing shacks.
- “Lucy sees the trolls for a second time – Lucy returns to the office” runs for 2 minutes and 6 seconds.
- “Lucy talkes to Donald” runs for 1 minute and 5 seconds, Lucy talks to Donald.
- “Salon ladies fret” runs for 28 seconds.
- “Lucy bakes a cake” runs for 26 seconds.
- “Blanche talks to Harve about dinner” runs for 1 minute and 2 seconds.
- “Blanche and Harve catch a burglar” runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
- “Lucy makes a Toast” runs for 1 minute and 51 seconds.
- “The plant is being sold” runs for 55 seconds.

There’s also a "Molog" BD-live interactive feature, that allows viewers to create their own scrapbook commentary of the film.

The bonus trailers are for:

- “The Forbidden Kingdom” runs for 2 minutes and 8 seconds.
- “Delta Farce” runs for 2 minutes and 6 seconds.

Overall

The Film: F Video: B- Audio: B Extras: D Overall: C-

 


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