New in Town / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | January 30, 2009 | Comments ()
First of all, I just want to take a moment to thank Hollywood for coming down off its high-horse of special effects laden movies and Manhattan romances and deigning to put out a movie that celebrates small-town life. Oh, yay! What a brave sacrifice you’ve made, Tinseltown! If it weren’t for movies like these, how would we in the big cities ever know what it’s like to live in rural America? Oh, those poor humble people with their dial-up Internets, charming town squares, and their love of simple, hearty dishes, football, and Jesus. I’m so touched that you’d even bother to relocate a couple of big, Hollywood stars into Winnipeg, Canada for a few months, so that we might know better what it’s truly like to live in Minnesota. And bless your hearts: Hollywood made New in Town despite the fact that the kinds of people depicted in the film probably can’t even attend the movie, what with the fact that their one movie house (a badly converted, broken down 1950s tavern that only screens movies on the weekends) is probably just now getting around to showing The Dark Knight on their big screen (now in mono!).
Second: I understand that a lot of folks in the great state of Minnesota have taken offense to the Minnesotan stereotypes depicted in New in Town, and that a few of the newspaper critics in the state have even asked their readers to boycott the movie. And why not? According to New in Town, everyone in small-town Minnesota ice fishes, drinks beer, speaks with a funny accent, scrapbooks, and just can’t wait to invite Jesus Christ into their hearts. Oh yeah: And unlike big cities like Detroit and Chicago, it’s cold there. Really, really cold. And it snows a ton, and those of us in the big cities — well, we just can’t bear the thought of living that way, wrapped in layers of clothing, and forced to wear big, heavy jackets over our super-sexy hipster clothes and thongs. We’ll just have to suffer vicariously through big screen magic that brings those chilly temperatures right into our theater seats; that is, if we can even bother to dig ourselves out the two-feet of goddamn snow in our driveway to go see a movie.
Third: Hey Minnesotans! Get the fuck over it. You think you’re the first goddamn state in the Union to have a big Hollywood movie caricature your asses? Brother, please. Call me when some bumfuck Nebraskan makes an entire career out of making fun of your state. How many movies have you seen where Jersey is ceaselessly mocked as the armpit of America? (It is.) What about those poor fuckers in South Boston who have to suffer another round of mangled, stereotypical beat-downs every time some big-shot director wants to win an Oscar? Or try living in Georgia; according to Hollywood, everyone there are molasses-talking, racist hucksters who like to buttfuck their sisters. Oooh. Oooh. Or try being an African American — there are no African-American stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood and Tyler Perry. No sir. Uh huh. None at all. Come on: Get over your fucking selves — you’d think with all those hearty meals designed to fatten you up and protect you from the winter, you’d have a fairly thick skin by now. Nope: You get two or three movies made about how kind and simple Minnesotans with their strange way of talking are and you turn into a bunch of self-righteous crybabies. Sheeeit.
Fourth, if there’s any reason not to actually go see New in Town, it’s because it’s a lousy goddamn movie. Movie-goers in general should be offended by such an awful product, and women — of course — should be offended by the gotta-get-a-man motif that once again plays crucial to another romantic-comedy formula. Renee Zellwegger plays Lucy Hill, a big corporate type who works out of Miami, but is forced to relocate temporarily to some small town in Minnesota and oversee the streamlining of a factory that makes sports bars. Once she arrives in Minnesota, a nonstop, 45 minute joke about how cold it is there ensues: It’s too cold for skirts, her nipples pop out of her blouse, her hardwood floors are too cold to walk on, and her fireplace doesn’t have a goddamn switch she can turn it on with. Of course, she’s also forced to associate with known simpletons — her secretary likes to scrapbook and make Tapioca, and she’s too dumb to realize that “streamlining a plant” means that half the people are probably going to lose their jobs. Meanwhile, Harry Connick, Jr. grows a beard and an extra layer of fat to play Ted, the local Union representative, wary of big-city girls and their promiscuous ways. He drives a truck and drinks beer, and he’s proud of it!
Naturally, after Lucy has spent some time in the small town with real people, she begins to understand their ways and how it’s supposed to work: Now she bakes things, and big strong sexy men are supposed to save her ass when she drives into a snow bank to avoid a cow. And so, Lucy starts to temper her career aspirations for the sake of the unwashed masses (and romantic-comedy formulas), and she sets about trying to save the plant from shuttering, so that these poor humble folks can maintain their way of life, and by “way of life,” I mean sitting in their recliners in their long johns and whittling wooden ducks and guffawing domestic beer out of their nostrils.
I will grant the movie this: I wasn’t bothered by the feel-good ending. When the entire world is apparently shuttering, it is nice to see a movie where a few jobs are saved, even if it is in the ultimate pursuit of a man. It doesn’t hurt, either, that one of those jobs belongs to a foreman played by J.K. Simmons, and good movie or awful, it’s always nice to see J.K. Simmons get some work. Otherwise, know this: Everyone who worked on New in Town has already been paid, so you don’t have to feel like you gotta go see it to support their livelihoods. While factories and entire industries across the nation are shutting their doors, you don’t have to worry about Hollywood: Those motherfuckers will always find a way to stay afloat.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and son. You can email him here or leave a comment below.