‘New in Town’ a failed recipe for warm and fuzzy romance

2009-03-08 00:00

Like a fresh tray of home-baked chocolate-chip cookies, most romantic comedies have become a tried and tested recipe.

Though these biscuits are made from the same ingredients, they don’t all taste the same — it’s about how one mixes the ingredients together and the love poured in to make it stand out from the rest.

Similarly, romantic comedies are made unique by their characters, their chemistry and how their flavours work together, their quirky dialogue and interesting scenarios that have the ability to charm audiences to stay interested and become a product that you can’t get enough of.

New in Town, directed by Jonas Elmer, didn’t warm my insides like grandma’s choc-chip cookies. For me, it was more like the thin, plain, sugary “dunker” offered on the side of every cup of filter coffee.

Lucy Hill, played by Renee Zellweger, is an independent corporate woman, in love with Miami and on the fast track to becoming vice president in a “blue collar” industry.

She never says no to a challenge and, as a result, volunteers to move to a “nowhere” town in icy-cold Minnesota. Her mission: to down-scale and revamp a factory that just isn’t bringing in the revenue the executives desire.

She is received with an even colder reception by the Minnesota community and more importantly the man who is to become the object of her affection, Ted Mitchell, played by Harry Connick jnr.

Their dislike of each other is so intense, one gets excited about the ensuing romance.

And just like that, the excitement dies with their less-than smouldering affair.

True to the tried and tested ingredients, just when the communtity warms up to her, she disappoints them and messes up her relationshp with Ted.

It is up to her to live up to the challenge, keep the community employed and realise that love is more important that flying solo in a fancy convertible.

With one funny scene in the movie, I was more interested in the sounds of crackling popcorn, people shifting in their seats and looking at their watches, as scene after scene went by with nothing more than a forced giggle or handfuls of corn.

The ingredients were right, but I kept wondering whether it was mediocre acting or poor directing.

But hey, chocolate chip isn’t for everyone, some don’t mind the thin, sugary dunker.

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