Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New In Town

There's a new girl in town and she's looking good
There's a fresh freckle face in the neighborhood.
There's a new girl in town with a brand new style
She was just passing through but if things work out
She's gonna stay awhile

While watching Lionsgate's new film,  "New In Town", that theme song chorus above kept playing in my head. It's from the popular '76 sitcom, "Alice". Why that song? You ask. Maybe it was the snappy waitress named "Flo" at the local diner in the film or the love of tapioca pudding by New Ulm, Minnesota, residents where "New in Town" is set.  For you former Alice fans, like me (no pun intended) remember Vera's favorite snack was tapioca pudding too.  And last but not least, those theme song lyrics really sum up what this cute romantic comedy is really about.

I don't believe in coincidence, so during an interview with "New In Town" co-screenwriter, Ken Rance, I asked the Charlotte, NC, resident about the similarities to the popular '70s sitcom.

"I was a fan of "Alice" and my family owns a restaurant in South Los Angeles. So having worked in a restaurant, I wondered what kind of character could serve as a conflict for our protagonist. I thought well there's "Flo." I was gonna change the character's name, but through the writing it just stuck," Rance states.

And that is where the commonalities end.  While Linda Lavin ficticiously sweat it out in blazing Phoenix, Renee Zellweger  literally bundled up to portray Lucy Hill, an ambitious Miami executive that's been sent to Hell's freezer to downsize a small manufacturing plant in New Ulm, Minnesota, and create a new product line.  The assignment is a great resume builder, but little does Lucy know, she'll have to use more than power suits, designer pumps, and a cold, authoritive attitude to truly get the job done.  That's where my favorite character, Blanche Gunderson (Siobhan Fallon Hogan), hilariously steps in.

As in most small towns, where almost everyone is related and works at "the plant", Lucy sticks out like a Burberry print in a sea of polka dots. But with the help of Blanche, her tapioca-making, scrap booking secretary, Lucy manages to transition into her new position, but not without a few icy exchanges with Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick Jr.), the plant's union representative.

From the start of their relationship in "New In Town," it's a typical love tale of opposites attract; she's the uptown girl and he's--to put is simply, not! Witnessing their attraction heat up is fun, but not laugh-out-loud funny as the plant employees' antics to keep the "new boss" figuratively out in the cold. Their ring leader is Stu Kopenhafer (J.K. Simmons) and his one-liners are definitely some of the funniest in the film.

Overall, "New In Town" is a good film to snuggle up to on a winter day or any day. It's a great warm-hearted approach to some of the real cold problems people deal with everyday, with a little romance thrown in for good measure.  I think most movie-goers will leave the theaters smiling come opening weekend, January 30th. Visit "New In Town's" website for downloads, cast bios, and more.

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