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February 06, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-06

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com h

Friday, February 6, 2009 - 5

Personality pickle

"I can get cash for my gold? No way"
'Average U
'New in Town' is a film. Neither recommendable nor
regrettable, "New in Town" is like
girl-in-the-suburbs comfort food. It's that box of oat-
meal cream pies co which you keep
movie that's funny comingback.
Anywho, take note of the adher-
but forgettable ence to formula: The woman is Lucy
Hill (Zellweger), a Miami food com-
By BLAKE GOBLE pany executive. The rural area is
Daily Arts Writer New Ulm, Minnesota. And the guy is
- - - Ted (Harry Connick Jr., "P.S. I Love
The big-city-lady-migrates- You"), the local union representative
to-the-suburbs at odds with Lucy. The rest is totally
movie is easy to by-the-book. There are mo*ntages
pick on. The for- of Lucy adapting and fights that end
mula goes some- New in in kissing. And ultimately, Lucy has
thing like this: to decide whether or not to stay in
An A-list female TOWn Minnesotaorgobackto Miami. Like
lead finds herself anyone doesn't see it coming.
stuck in rural at Quality But with "New in Town," the
land only to real- Showcase amusement certainly isn't derived
ize that small Lions Gate from the story. This narrative has
town life and been seen a hundred times. This
frumpy, difficult dudes can bring movie has easy jokes at the expense
her happiness. This scenario, which of "Minnesota nice." It has side
seems to compromise progressive characters who outperform Zell-
feminist ideals, is best exemplified weger at every turn, and the always
in "Baby Boom," "Raising Helen" amusing prospect of culture clash-
and "Sweet Home Alabama." And ing is present. A prissy woman in
"New in Town" is the latest entry in winter? Hilarious! But seriously,
an all-too-easy genre. it's like Minnesotans aren't a little
But that's not to say that all those strange and funny. Ever listen to
flicks are lousy. They're just ... pre- Garrison Keillor?
dictable. And that's not a terrible Specifically, Siobhan Fallon
thing. "New in Town," a vehicle for ("Baby Mama") and J.K. Simmons
Renee Zellweger ("Leatherheads"), ("Juno") steal the - show. Fallon
is vet another fish-ont-of-wnter Dlos Blanche. cv's evrsna k-

ing, Jesus-loving, tapioca slamming
secretary: Her naivet6 is matched
only by her kindness. She's preachy,
yes, but at least she's a good lady.
Her scrapbook parties and "doncha
know" speak are funny.
And Simmons, this decade's
most reliable second banana, plays
the plant foreman Stu, the requisite
Minnesotan man. Every scene he's
in, he out-acts Zellweger in every
.way. Just look for his screaming
match in his ex-wife's basement,
where every not-quite-blue swear
comes to "gee-golly-gee" frui-
tion. Simmons make Minnesotans
almost amusing again.
"New in Town" is the kind of
simple amusement that can be
found indoors on a winter's Sunday
morning. Or it's a great date movie
that can be both derided or enjoyed,
depending on perspective. "New
in Town" is totally junk food, but
there's no shame in liking it. It's just
not the best junkxfood out there.
There's a give and take with this
film. At times, yelling at Lucy for
being so predictably stuffy seems
fair. Other times, the film's "Fargo"-
speak is cute. "New in Town" is
a decent movie, plain and simple.
There's no reason to like it, but it's
enjoyable anyway. It's not recom-
mendable, but it isn't waste of time
either.Besides; it's warmer than ice'
snilin oneLke Wnhoeonn

By TRINA MANNINO
Daily Arts Writer
Showtime can now add a manic
mom with crazy alter egos to its
list of color-
ful characters,
which already
includes sex
addicts, socio-
paths and call States of
girls. "United
States of Tara"
follows Tara Sundays
Gregson (Toni at10p.m.
Collette, "Little Showtime
Miss Sunshine")
who appears to
be like any other suburban mom
balancing her familial duties and
professional life. But she has a
secret - three, actually.
Rather than threatening to take
away her kids' PlayStation or chas-
ing them around the house with a
wooden spoon, when Tara's kids
act out of line, one of her three
alter egos comes out to cope with
the situation. Tara has multiple
personality disorder - the politi-
cally correct term is Dissociative
Identity Disorder - and at any
stressful moment a promiscu-
ous teenager called T, a Marlboro
Red-smoking truck driver known
as Buck or a stereotypical Susie-
homemaker named Alice emerges
to wreak havoc on the family.
What sets "United States of
Tara" apart from other family-
centered shows is the Gregsons'
unconventional lifestyle. In the
first episode, Tara is revealed to
have lived with the disorder her
entire life, and her family talks
openly about it. When Tara unex-
pectedly transforms into her Buck
persona before her daughter's -
or his daughter's - dance recital,
ARTS IN BRIEF
Film Review
An uninviting flop
"The Uninvited"
DreamWorks/Paramount
At Showcase and Quality 16
If the collective reaction of
moviegoers holds any bearing in
determining the quality of a film,
then the exasperated sigh heard
throughout the theater at the clos-
ing of "The Uninvited" speaks vol-
umes. This half-witted attempt at
a psychological thriller is based

MamAttack!: The next big girlgroup.
there's no question that Tara in
Buck form must attend the perfor-
mance, regardless of his unrefined
manner and roving eye for jailbait.
Obviously, living with a person
whose personality can turn 180
degrees at any moment is frustrat-
ing, and predictably, Tara's family
struggles with her illness. Despite
Tara's shortcomings, the Gregsons
realize each one of her alter egos
brings out a special quality in her.
Buck teaches her son, Marshall
Not your usual
crazy mom.
(Keir Gilchrist, "The Winner"),
to bowl a strike and T helps her,
daughter, Kate (Brie Larson, "Slee-
pover"), cope with the pressures of
school and boyfriend troubles.
"United States of Tara" offers
a positive message about family
life and demonstrates that fami-
lies should stick together through
thick and thin. It just has a very
unique way of conveying that stan-
dard message.
"United States of Tara" has yet
to distinguish itself from other
upon a 2003 Korean horror flick
titled "A Tale of Two Sisters." The
movie's plot focuses on the main
character Anna (Emily Browning,
"Darkness Falls"), heraiter and
confidante Alex (Arielle Kebbel,
"Be Cool"):and their haunting (and
oftentimes metaphysical) relation-
ghip-with their stepmother Rachael
(Elizabeth Banks, "W.").
overwroughtthematicmaterial,
poor acting and an unconvincing
narrative mar whatever potential
value this film might have had. By
the story's end, the film seems to
be desperately trying to reconcile
the holes and inconsistencies in its

Showtime shows and prove that
it has staying power. The cable
channel is known to explore the
lives of unconventional fam-
ily units - the Fisher family who
owned a funeral home in "Six
Feet Under" and the pot-dealing
Botwin clan of "Weeds" are far
cries from normal. But "United
States of Tara" now has to face
the challenge of maintaining its
offbeat concept while not going
off the deep end and alienating its
audience - a challenge that both
"Weeds" and "Six Feet Under"
struggled with as they progressed
into later seasons.
Though it's too early to deter-
mine if "United States of Tara" is
a work of television genius, the
initial showing's approach is dif-
ferent from virtually any other
family-centered show on televi-
sion. With the help of a winning
trifecta - executive producer Ste-
ven Spielberg, writer Diablo Cody
("Juno") and lead actress Toni
Collette - the show looks likes it
could be a success. "United States
of Tara" can't rely too much on its
prestigious creative team and lead
actors,however, because its success
hinges upon its actual execution -
something that, for this show, will
be three times as difficult.
plot rather than offer its viewer a
unique and engaging experience.
The unintentionally humorous plot
twist, which is oddly reminiscent
of "Fight Ciub," could inciteovew-
ers to scan the production credits
for the name M. Night Shyamalan.
It's worth noting that the movie
contains sufficient- scares and
thrills to satisfy the most gracious
enthusiasts of generic thrillers.
But those expecting a film with
cerebral acting roles and a well-
written script may very well be
demanding a refund before the
movie's conclusion.
TIMOTHY RABB

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