Renée Zellweger Taken As POW In 'New In Town' Culture War

Most midwinter dump-jobs are happy just to get some lukewarm reviews and, if they're lucky, $67 million in two weeks of release. But you're really on fire when you've earned a rarer-than-rare "anti-Minnesota" designation.

That's what the latest Renée Zellweger romcom New In Town faces upon opening this Friday, with early word from one critic urging the "good people of Minnesota" to "Stand up! Fight back! Take back your state and your culture and your accent!" Another critic, still reeling from his subjection to Zellweger's turn as an icy Miami executive who discovers love on a wintry northern business expedition, wrote his entire review in the film's condescending Townspeople dialect: "Her corporate-speak pretnear starts a riot. I'm tellin' ya, da guys are so worried 'bout losin' der jobs dey treat Lucy like a gopher who got into da garbage, donchaknow."

Distributor Lionsgate, meanwhile, is doing all it can to mend the breach threatening its January delivery — including marketing kingpin Tim Palen's staunchest "tug-on-the-ovary" test-screening efforts profiled last week in The New Yorker:

After the screening, Palen listened carefully to the focus group. Then, on the escalator down from the theater, he said, “They weren’t talking about Renée Zellweger, but she was the reason they came, because she’s a movie star. So if we’re out on Super Bowl weekend as counter-programming—trying to get women—the trailer has to be about her and be all shellacked and lacquered. Though I wonder if Fargo meets Baby Boom might be more relatable, with the downsizing everyone’s experiencing.” I mentioned that Blanche (Siobhan Fallon Hogan), Zellweger’s administrative assistant at the plant, had got many of the biggest laughs. “Droll and folksy reads as quaint, reads as art house,” Palen said. “I love Blanche, but I can’t sell her.”

"Fargo meets Baby Boom"? Ugh. Now even the Minnesotans won't buy it.