Adapted from Shannon Hale’s novel of the same name and directed by Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jerusha Hess, the delightfully daft Austenland follows Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), an extreme Jane Austen fan whose real-life romances fail to measure up to Mr Darcy. Fed up, she spends all of her money on a trip to England to visit an immersive Austen theme park, where all participants dress in period clothing and stuck-up lady of the manor Mrs Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) rules the roost. Despite her limited funds resulting in her being stuck in the servants quarter, Jane remains determined to find love.
Stephen A. Russell says: I’m not entirely sure if Austenland is supposed to be poking fun at the stuffy Brits or sneering at the brash ‘n’ crass Yanks, but the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle or thereabouts, as the film really is all over the place in tone and pacing. A fun enough concept, a tad more focus could have wrought some wicked satire from the material.
As it is, Hess settles for occasionally deliriously silly laughs, with Jennifer Coolidge securing most, and once you disengage the brain factor, there’s an enjoyably inconsequential hour and a half to be had here. I doubt we’ll be chatting about it in two centuries time, though. (Courtesy of The Lowdownunder).
Entertainment Weekly says: “Austenland is kind of a one-joke movie, and the film’s rhythm is a bit flaccid, but the joke, at least, has a twinge of wit. This glorified romcom choice has very little weight. Maybe that’s because the only question in Austenland with a trace of comic friction is whether Jane can ever exit her cocoon of petticoat escapism and join the real world.”
Rotten Tomatoes says: 32% – “Despite an intriguing premise and fine performances from a talented cast, Austenland succumbs to outworn romcom cliches and slapstick gags.”
The Guardian says: “If you’re going to fork out on one actively bad film this year, it may as well be Austenland. Jerusha Hess’s mock-Regency comedy is so actively inept and so horribly precarious that it becomes curiously engrossing, like watching a monkey spin some plates or a blindfolded dog attempting to ride a unicycle.”
The Telegraph says: The laughs are all up front, with a life-sized cut-out of Colin Firth in Russell’s home coming quickly under threat, and Jennifer Coolidge on go-for-broke, accent-mangling form as a fellow visitor, Miss Elizabeth Charming…Trading off the crassest type of Anglophilia is a quick route to Carry On silliness, for good and bad: for a while, the film gets by on silliness alone. But in the end, it all amounts to no more than a sniggery guilty pleasure.
Actress @lenadunham: “Austenland was a gosh darn delight. I mean, I could watch Keri Russell pick her nose for an hour and a half but this was way better.”
Kids? Yes, but they won’t get it below the age of 12.
Watch it: If you’re looking for a colossal chick flick.