the idea of Austenland looks
promising: a socially frustrated young American quits her dead-end job, spends
all her savings and travels to a British estate that’s a Jane Austen theme
park, complete with handsome men who resemble Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. With winsome Keri Russell in the leading role,
how can you go wrong?
the answer is: easily.
about Austenland is heavy-handed, to
put it mildly…even amateurish at times, beginning with the clumsy comedy relief
of Jennifer Coolidge, as one of Russell’s fluttery fellow tourists, and Jane
Seymour, as the archly unromantic proprietor of the theme park. I didn’t like
the way it was cast or photographed.
To be fair
and honest, this movie lost me early on, while my wife enjoyed it from start to
finish, as did several other women who attended the same screening. This might
reflect a gender bias, or perhaps I just prefer a subtler brand of humor. I
don’t know if Shannon Hale’s novel had a lighter touch, or if director and
co-writer Jerusha Hess took the material in a different direction. (The film
was produced by another formidable female, Twilight
author Stephenie Meyer.)
If Austenland amuses its intended audience,
so be it. It just didn’t work for me.