Doodad Kind of Town

Hell Frozen Over: Stuck on a Plane with "New in Town"
June 21, 2009, 12:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday was a travel day from hell.

I was returning from a business trip to Houston. My flight was supposed to leave Bush Intercontinental at 1:45. It actually left around 9:30. The Chicago area was covered with a series of very severe thunderstorms all day until late at night. By the time the plane touched down at O’Hare – around midnight – I was ready to get out and kiss the ground.

Anyone who’s ever endured a lengthy flight delay knows the hell that is hanging out in an airport with no idea of if or when you’ll get home. The uncertainty. The weather horror stories swapped among travellers after cell phone calls to the folks at home. The temporary relief of cocktails in the bar and/or bad carb consumption from the myriad offerings in the food court. (Shout out to the Nestle’s Cookie stand and their caramel-walnut-toll house bars!)

Only in this stress-filled milieu could it have seemed a good idea to watch the in-flight movie: “New in Town,” a crappy, formulaic romantic comedy, which manages to be neither very romantic nor particularly comic.

Remember the video clip in my previous post? If not, you should go take a look at it right now. Because that “Family Guy” sketch nails “New in Town.” It is the quintessential, by-the-book “Busy Business Lady” rom com. Renee Zellwegger is the sleek, soulless corporate automaton in designer suits and chic stilettos, Harry Connick Jr. is the hunky, pickup-truck driving guy in the flannel shirt. They’re tossed together when Zellwegger becomes the new “Boss Lady” in the Minnesota food products plant where Connick is the workers’ union rep. They hate each other on sight, which means they’ll be making passionate whoopee by the three-quarter point. That’s about all you need to know – and, if you’ve seen the trailer at any point, you probably already figured that much out.

We could puzzle over how a Busy Business Lady like Zellwegger’s character ever got so far up the corporate ladder without the brains to know that if she’s going to Minnesota in November, she ought to bring a winter coat. But then, that’d deprive us of the high-larious opening scene in which she struggles to push her overloaded cart of expensive luggage through wind and snowdrifts while wearing only a lightweight jacket and high heels.

And that’s only – forgive the awkward pun – the tip of the iceberg. Can I just heave a heavy sigh here and ask why we keep perpetuating this idiotic stereotype of the woman who’s a star performer in the business world but completely inept in every other aspect of her life? Is the idea that a woman can be both good at her job and a contented, fulfilled person away from the office so terribly threatening to us? I work in the corporate world; I am surrounded by very successful Busy Business Ladies all the time, and I can guarantee you that the vast majority of them have a pretty full life outside of the office. Most have families, and even the ones who don’t aren’t likely to come unglued at the propsect of cooking dinner or changing a diaper. (I certainly don’t.) At the very least, they know how to turn off the Blackberry and lose themselves in good book once in awhile. We’ve been going down this same silly road for at least 22 years now, every since “Baby Boom’s” Diane Keaton picked up her briefcase with one hand and tucked her baby niece under her other arm like a football. And this trip is heading nowhere.

Something else we can lose now: the notion that heavy Minnesota accent = Instant Laughs. It’s been 13 years since “Fargo”; it’s time to move on.

Is is just me, or was Renee Zellwegger a better actress before she got Botox? I loved her as Bridget Jones, but these days, whenever I see her on screen, I pretty much just want to kill her. Her horrendous attempt at a Barbara Stanwyck turn in “Leatherheads” took me completely out of the movie, and the current lack of movement in her forehead only makes her that much harder to watch. (I know those airplane movie screens are a little small and hard to see, but at times I wasn’t sure whether I was watching Zellwegger or Nicole Kidman – whose forehead has also seen a great decline in mobility as of late.)

The one good thing in “New in Town”? Siobhan Fallon-Hogan. I saw her most recently as the sympathetic prison guard watching over Bjork in “Dancer in the Dark.” Here, even when saddled with a wardrobe of goofy holiday sweaters and a bad perm, she brings a genuine heart and soul to her chipper, scrapbooking, cookie-baking Minnesota secretary role. Would that the same heart-and-soul had made its way into Zellwegger’s performance.

8 Comments so far
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Yes, she was better before she used botox. Her facial expressions are quite limited these days, and she's even more annoying than she used to be. Excellent negative write-up, Pat! Your distress was palpable.

Comment by Alexander Coleman

Pat, I have felt your pain, though perhaps not as intensely over an unscheduled delay. (My pain was partly of my own making, not realizing that I wouldn't be able to connect to a flight out of Honolulu (the airport closed at 10 pm), not being able to find a room on the entire island of Oahu, and having to "sleep" outside the airport all night with other stranded passengers.As for the film, I think it's kind of funny that Busy Business Lady is a perhaps unconscious rendering of Busy Businessman in heels. Obviously, the people who write these things don't know or understand women, so they MUST write what they know – men who are completely incompetent in their private lives. Perhaps a little too close to the truth to laugh at, so they put the suit on a woman.Great review.

Comment by Marilyn

Alexander -Thanks. I actually was a fan of Zellwegger's until recently. But her performances of late seem shrill and sort of phoned-in.Marilyn -Eveyone has a airport delay horror story, but yours sounds worse than most. My greatest sympathies on that – "sleeping" outside the airport sounds like hell. Interesting observation about the "Busy Business Lady" scenario -it'd be interesting to see how many of these kinds of rom coms are written by men.

Comment by Pat

Nice piece, Pat. I have disliked Zellweger since "Cold Mountain." The most recent movie I hated her in was "Appaloosa," where I couldn't for the life of me figure out why Ed Harris' character fell for her.

Comment by Rick Olson

Thanks, Rick.Many of us seem to be in agreement that Zellwegger's charms are wearing thin these days.Her Bridget Jones was delightful (at least in the first film, the second one kinda sucked but I don't think it was her fault) and she was wonderful in "Chicago." But lately, she's been increasingly hard to stomach.

Comment by Pat

Booo on the flight delays. I hope your flight was not too turbulent.In my tortured existence of having to stay in the basement and keep myself entertained while the workmen have been here I have rented just about every movie on pay per view. New In Town was one of them. I watched the first 30 minutes then had to go do something more constructive like smashing SunChips into the carpet then cleaning them up with my teeth. Horrible movie. I love Harry's music….but he should stick to what he knows. Plus people in Minnesota DO NOT have Louisiana accents. I hope you are enjoying your time off–despite this HUMIDITY.We still need to meet for dinner or something…it is just so hard to get my act together with my home in upheaval FOR THREE WEEKS SO FAR!

Comment by Parisjasmal

Jen I am ROTFLMAO. It never occurred to me I could be sucking Sun Chips out of the carpet rather than watching this!

Comment by Pat

I'll chime in with my recent disdain for Zelleweger. The nickname 'round our household is Lemon face. If she could manage to open her eyes and unpucker her tight jowls, she may be more engaging. I forked out a $1.50 to see New in Town. If not for Siobahn and Connick, I'd have felt like I wasted that money.

Comment by Reel Whore

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