Comedy is never just black and white. There is a certain talent to getting it “right.” Some movies go for the classy sort and in turn, earn viewer’s gratitude. Others shoot for the wild and crazy, the sort that is slap-happy. This Austen-inspired comedy of errors opts for the latter and the question on everyone’s mind is, does it work?
(Let me give you all a fair warning; there is going to be LOTS of fangirling below.)
Austenland (2013) Film Review
As a 30-something who lives a mundane existence and cannot keep herself from loving Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy is not something that endears Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) to the game of dating. Her friend is concerned Jane just wants the fantasy. But really, her love of all things Darcy isn’t that bad… okay, so it is a bit obsessive which prompts Jane to strike a bargain with Molly. First she books a trip to Austenland an all-inclusive Jane Austen experience run by Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), and if, upon her return she realizes regency life is just that, a fantasy, she’ll give up her dreams of finding her own Darcy. With ticket in hand, Jane books a flight to London and lands smack dab in the middle of every girl’s dream.
Once there, Jane befriends Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), and strikes up a friendship with the groundskeeper, Martin (Bret McKenzie). When she’s thrown together with the moody and arrogant, Henry Nobley (JJ Feild), Jane sees the faux in her childhood dreams. Ever since she set foot on Austenland’s grounds, everything about being the heroine in her own Austen story has been an act… or has it?
Right up front, let me say there is conflict about this adaptation. I watched out for this one closely, only unfortunately, it didn’t open at a convenient theater. However we made a day out of it – and oh my, what an adventure it was. Put thoughts of a proper, regency saga out of your mind. Unlike the dialogue Jane Austen penned, this comedy is awkward and amusing over how funny it tries to be. Jane weaves some subtle albeit wickedly good humor into her stories, satire with class, whereas this contemporary script makes many concessions to adapt to its 21st century characters. You’ve been warned. With that being said, I can in no way fault Austenland since it inserts a modern girl into a world she assumes is her “perfect” ideal.
One of the first things that stands out is the speed the script moves. We’re barely given time to process Jane’s addiction before she’s off to England. Little explanation is given as to the “why” behind Jane’s shy, immersion in all things 1800s. Secondly, I cannot say how impressive the cast is. Initially, it may seem an odd mix of talent (veterans, unknowns and British talent), but we quickly see how well they work together. The entire cast doesn’t just have good chemistry, they create it with the fun dialogue or acting silly to make the audience laugh with glee. I also cannot neglect to mention the ending; I lovelovelove the end (preceding the closing titles) of this film. Not because it’s unique or any different, but because it’s sweet, and how the actors play it is charming. As a result, it creates its own brand of special.
Bottom line, Austenland is a delightful film that I look forward making future trips to. It’s a delightful mix of catchy music; throwbacks to popular Austen scenes or dialogue (like a humorous caught-in-the-rain scene); and a refreshing cast. All combined, the movie is hard not to like. Plus after so many end-of-the-world titles (its part study a contemporary woman, part whimsical comedy), this is a fun alternative. As I’ve yet to read the novel of the same name, I cannot say how well the screen transfer is, however I quite adore everything about the film. There is more good to it than feeding Austen obsessions. The story is careful to realize that a fantasy is not better than reality, and it’s admirable to see Jane stand up for herself; to distinguish between fiction and fact. The more confident Jane we see is what makes the silly moments worth it.
From the crazy shenanigans to the absurd playacting and accents (courtesy of Georgia King and Jennifer Coolidge, respectively), Austenland was a joyous journey, from beginning to end!
Now, it is your turn! Any fangirl moments you want to share or chat up? The comments are open and at your disposal.
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You can find Austenland digitally on Amazon Video‘Austenland’: A Hilarious Jane Austen Spoof Romance. A review of the 2013 film based on the novel by Shannon Hale. #Adaptation #FWArchives #FavoriteMovie #HappyMovie #Happy #Movies #Romance Click To Tweet
CONTENT: There is sexual innuendo, everything from visual [albeit clothed] references to anatomy to winking hints about “touching” inappropriately [some of which is during conversation about the 1800s manners vs. contemporary]; there’s a brief suggestion a man is homosexual. Men remove their shirts, which makes the ladies giggle, and much is made over the male actors “romancing” the female clients; women wear low-cut gowns. A man attempts to take liberties with a woman [she pushes him away]. There may be one or two minor profanities. Austenland rates PG13.