(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to combine highfalutin language with unpoetic words, so I reviewed a film that mixed 19th-century and modern comedy.)


When life gets infelicitously boring or abhorrent,
One may become a little smitten
With the literature of Britain,
Perchance a smidgen more besotted than one’s misadventures warrant.

For those who hate ornate oration,
I’ll provide a rough translation:

When life goes down the toilet, some folks get more stupid and obsess
With either lunar landing theories
Or some British mini-series,
Forgetting that the times ahead of indoor plumbing were a mess.

MPAA rating: PG-13

I’m not much of a Jane Austen fan, but many are. There are fans and then there are fans on the level of those in Austenland, where people obsessed with Regency-era manners and Mr. Darcy can live out their corset-wearing, side-saddle-riding, man-in-need-of-a-wife dreams. Keri Russell plays starry-eyed Jane Hayes, whose apartment is decked out in Austen paraphernalia, including a life-size cardboard cutout of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. (My mom and grandmother always had a soft spot for Firth because of that very role.) Being such a fan, she expends her limited resources to travel to her Jane Austen paradise, only to find it’s not quite as perfect as she had hoped.

Austenland has its strengths, but its weaknesses are much more noticeable. Jennifer Coolidge is dreadfully obnoxious as Jane’s fellow attendee Miss Charming, whose wealth compensates for her behavior and earns her far more attention than the lower-tier Jane. Likewise, Georgia King as the other visitor to Austenland is so effusively melodramatic that she seems to be acting more than the Austenland employees.

It is these employees that catch Jane’s eye since her Austenland experience is meant to end with “true love.” JJ Feild is the Mr. Darcy of the bunch, treating everything with equal disdain, while Bret McKenzie (Figwit from Return of the King, if you can believe it, and there’s a joke for that) is the handsome, down-to-earth handyman. Neither seems fully part of the theme park charade, and Jane can’t be entirely sure where the masquerade ends and “real” love begins.

Austenland is a mixed bag of a rom-com. Russell, the men, and Jane Seymour as Austenland’s snobbish owner are quite decent, but the other females range from amusing to annoying, especially when combined in an awkward “performance” toward the end. As inelegant as it gets at times, Russell and the ending are winsome enough to be worthwhile, and big Jane Austen fans, such as producer Stephanie Meyer, will probably enjoy the film’s Janeite appeal.

Best line: (Miss Charming, offering encouragement after Jane has been slighted) “Besides, you’ll feel totally different tomorrow. Think about all the people in the world that hang themselves. And then, the next day, they feel different, but there’s nothing they can do about it. Don’t hang yourself, Jane.”


Rank: Honorable Mention


© 2016 S. G. Liput

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