Thursday, February 20, 2014

Austenland

Austen fanatic goes to Austen themed retreat where actors are paid to act like Mr. Darcy. Obviously, chaos ensues.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any Jane Austen fan must be crazed, obsessed, and in love with Mr. Darcy...

From the premise you can see at least three things:

1. This is a movie catered to fans of Jane Austen.

2. It will be very, very silly.

3. In the end, our heroine Jane will end up with her very own Mr. Darcy.

The first is obvious, and typically I won't fall for that sort of thing. As a Jane Austen fan, I'm required to hold strong opinions about the adaptations of her work, and one of my strongest is that "Austen fanfiction" is guilty until proven innocent of being -- for lack of a better word -- sacrilegious. Since Austenland never at any point actually takes place inside an Austen narrative, it passed the basic test, and even had more draw besides the authoress, like yes, the premise, and the cast. In short, they succeeded. I felt catered to. Evidenced by the fact that I watched the movie.

Jennifer Coolidge, the clueless, strictly comic character, Keri Russell, the heroine, and Georgia King, an actual period drama actress. I'm currently watching her in Little Dorrit.

The second is fairly obvious too, and not so much a bad thing as you may think, especially if you, as I did, expect the silliness, and plan to enjoy the silliness. In fact, silliness was the only way to go -- it would have been awful if it tried for one second to be serious, but no, it winks and nudges its way admirably through the whole hour and a half run-time making it a mostly pleasant diversion. (Whenever it wasn't being awkwardly and modernly inappropriate.)

If you roll your eyes, does that mean you were not charmed?

The third I knew as confidently as the others at first, but then there was a little snafu, because Bret McKenzie is just as awesome as JJ Feild. Feild is, of course, Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey, but McKenzie is from New Zealand, and was Figwit (aka Lindir) in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and is an Oscar winning songwriter. For The Muppets, no less.

Spoiler warning!

So while Jane (Keri Russell) was being all proud and prejudiced against stick-in-the-mud Henry (Feild), a charming grounds worker Martin (McKenzie) who can't keep away from modern conveniences like iPods and sunglasses is wining her over. Eventually Henry warms to her and begins the romancing charade, but Jane's not interested in getting her promised charade anymore, and at that point even I'm hoping that maybe the movie isn't as predictable as I thought -- although there's something shady about that Kiwi accent and those elvish features.

Which will win the lady?

And in the twist that confirms the predicted predictability, it turns out that Henry is, in fact, not an actor at all (why he didn't make that clear is a convenient mystery since Jane made it obvious that she knew he was) and Martin was the pretender, assigned to romance her.

In due time my slight disappointment in that fact was appeased in the cheesiest fashion as the two fellows fight over her in an airport. The scene ends with an actual fight after Henry insults Martin by asking him if he couldn't get a job in The Hobbit. Oh the hilarity.

If there was a moral to all the silliness it'd be along the lines of "don't expect a romance straight out of an Austen novel." Right, very good, one problem though; they drive the point home by giving the heroine a "perfect" Pride and Prejudice style romance? Right... So I guess that just about sums up my point.

I couldn't call this a good movie, but since I can "delight in anything ridiculous" I got plenty of amusement out of the deal, and that is a worthy enough result.

6 comments:

  1. Sorry you didn't really love this one. I found it darling. Sure, it was silly but that's what made it so fun, sweet and all-around fabulous. I like to tell people not to take it "too seriously" and I think most Austen fans will be entertained by it. ;)

    Thanks for the review, Sarah. :)

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    1. Exactly, I didn't expect anything more from it than some silly fun, so I wasn't disappointed, even though I don't think it was great. I was definitely entertained. :) I'm glad you liked it Rissi!

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  2. I haven't seen this yet, but I haven't had great expectations for it at all anyway, so I suspect my reaction will be like yours. We shall see, if I ever get to see it!

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    1. Well, if you think your reaction will be like mine, then I guess I should recommend it, since it was amusing and I don't regret seeing it! :P

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  3. Good review Sarah. I went into this expecting to hate its absolute guts, but surprisingly, I didn't. In fact, I enjoyed the premise and felt like, with what humor they could cobble-up together, they did a fine enough job with.

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    1. Thanks! Wow, that's impressive, I guess a unique premise and a tiny bit of successful humor can go a long way!

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