Video Verdict: New DVDs for May 26

Renee Zellweger plays businesswoman Lucy Hill in the romantic comedy "New in Town."

Renee Zellweger plays businesswoman Lucy Hill in the romantic comedy "New in Town."

It’s a slow week on the DVD front, with only one major theatrical release making its way to home video.


New in Town
1 1/2 stars (out of four)
Rated PG for language and some suggestive material
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray

The title of “New in Town” may suggest relevance, but this romantic comedy would have felt old even a decade ago. How far back does the premise go? At least to the days of the 1954 Broadway musical “The Pajama Game.”

Renee Zellweger stars as Lucy Hill, an ambitious executive who is asked to leave her Miami home to oversee the downsizing of a food processing plant in Minnesota. Of course, viewers are treated to a host of traditional fish-out-of-water gags as Lucy shifts from one of the nation’s hottest climates to one of its most frigid. And yes, these sequences are as predictable as they sound.

Making things more frustrating is director Jonas Elmer’s decision to portray every native Minnesotan as a backward hick whose only ambitions are ice fishing and scrap booking. This is so blatant it’s almost offensive, but at least Elmer is an equal opportunity offender. Despite Lucy’s corporate success, he frequently allows Zellweger to portray her as an annoying ice queen who doesn’t even have the sense to check a weather report. Sadly, that leaves viewers with a questionable cast of characters who don’t garner much sympathy, despite the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in.

Lucy is in Minnesota to streamline the food processing plant, eliminating about 50 percent of the jobs as she goes. This isn’t the sort of thing that sits well with Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick, Jr.), the local union representative, but he’s so handsome and Zellweger so pretty that it’s obvious they’ll find some way to spark a romance.

Connick is becoming a better actor with every role and Zellweger is generally solid, but neither performer is good enough to fix a film like this. Not only are the characters stereotypes, but most viewers will know where the story is headed even before Lucy deplanes in Minnesota.

“New in Town” is available on Blu-ray as well as on widescreen and full screen DVD releases. Extras include deleted scenes, an audio commentary, a couple making-of features and a featurette on scrap booking.



“Killshot”: Long-delayed screen adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel about a couple (Diane Lane and Thomas Jane) who are placed in the witness protection program after witnessing a crime involving a contract killer (Mickey Rourke). Unfortunately, for them, the hit man doesn’t like loose ends. Directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”).

“Land of the Lost” — The Complete Series: With Will Ferrell’s “Land of the Lost” feature film coming out next week, Universal decided it was a fine time to trot out every episode of the 1970s children’s TV series. Spencer Milligan, Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman star as family members who find themselves trapped in a land populated by dinosaurs and monkey-people.

“Designing Women” — The Complete First Season: The first 21 episodes of the 1980s and ’90s TV sitcom about four women (Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart) running an interior design firm in the South.

“The Closer” — The Complete Fourth Season: Kyra Sedgwick continues her Emmy-nominated portrayal of Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, leader of a Los Angeles detective squad specializing in high-profile crimes. This DVD set is hitting stores just in time to let fans catch up before the June 8 TNT debut of season five.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: With Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Volume 1 and Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s Volume 1, Warner Brothers is offering samples of classic TV animation. The 1960s set includes episodes of “Top Cat,” “The Flintstones” and “The Quick Draw McGraw Show,” and the 1970s set includes selections from “The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour,” “Hong Kong Phooey” and “Josie and the Pussycats.”

“Jeeves & Wooster” — The Complete Series: All four seasons of the British comedy series starring Hugh Laurie as a daft and idle aristocrat and Stephen Fry as his capable valet. The show originally aired in Europe from 1990 to 1993.

“Powder Blue”: Drama detailing the interconnected stories of a group of Los Angeles residents of different social backgrounds. Jessica Biel, Patrick Swayze, Kris Kristofferson, Ray Liotta and Forest Whitaker star.

“Law & Order — Special Victims Unit” — The Ninth Year: Five-disc release featuring every ninth-season episode of the long-running TV drama about New York detectives.

“A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” and “The Princess of Nebraska”: Magnolia Home Entertainment is offering the two latest films by director Wayne Wang (“The Joy Luck Club,” “Maid in Manhattan”). “Good Prayers” is a drama about a 40-something woman who moves from China to America to start a new life, and “Nebraska” tells of a China-born 18-year-old whose life is put on hold by an unexpected pregnancy. They are available individually or as part of a two-disc, double feature release.

“Gunsmoke” — The Third Season, Vol. 2: Twenty episodes of the classic Western series centered on the adventures of U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness). Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone and Dennis Weaver also star.

“The Mod Squad” — Season 2, Vol. 2: Michael Cole, Clarence Williams III and Peggy Lipton star as hip, young crime fighters in this 1960s and ’70s television drama. The multi-disc set is packed with 13 vintage episodes.


Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at

1 Comment

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One response to “Video Verdict: New DVDs for May 26

  1. My favorite rude question (which I bitched about in my blog): Was it planned? Seriously? Did they just ask me if this baby is an ACCIDENT???


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