EDITORS: Buy this “Austenland” review in our Shop.
Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo
Released in Theaters: Aug. 16, 2013
Released on DVD/Blu-ray: Feb. 11, 2014
Buy the DVD/Blu-ray: Austenland [Blu-ray]
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Runtime: 97 minutes
Directed by: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Bret McKenzie, Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge
Official Site: Austenland
REVIEW: When the movie “Austenland” was released back in August, it was with little fanfare. Perhaps critics wrote it off as a chick-flick of no consequence. But upon screening it for its DVD/Blu-ray release this week, I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder at a film in quite some time.
Based on the book of the same name written by Shannon Hale, the film follows Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a woman obsessed with the world of Jane Austen. She drinks out of dainty porcelain floral teacups with matching floral saucers, devours every word Austen has written time and time again, and kisses a standee of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy (the best version, IMO). She spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, a Jane Austen-themed getaway that recreates the world Austen lived in — and guarantees you a role in a romance during your stay.
Will she be romanced by Martin the stableboy (Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie) or by Mr. Henry Nobly (JJ Feild), the seemingly Mr. Darcy-esque character at the resort? At some point, you stop caring, because the side characters are much more interesting and hilarious.
There’s Miss Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), whose hair accoutrements make me laugh at every turn. There’s also Lady Amelia Heartwright (The New Normal’s Georgia King), Jane Seymour as the owner of the resort, and the paid over-actors who are there to romance the guests (James Callis and Ricky Whittle). Together, these characters make the movie with all their silliness and outrageousness.
The film actually deserves another viewing or two to capture all the small nuances and comedy that you might have missed the first time. Even the love triangle between Jane, Martin, and Henry is worth investigating a second time.
Guys, don’t be fooled by the film’s chick-flick marketing. If you’ve been dragged to any period film like “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” or “Emma,” or even made to watch “Downton Abbey,” you’ll find this film funny too (and let’s admit it — you secretly enjoy them).
My #3wordreview for this film? Amusingly cute. Adorkable.
Watch the official trailer below, and check out the blu-ray bonus features below that.
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES:
Audio Commentary: Director Jerusha Hess and Producer Stephenie Meyer deliver a fun, light, and informative track that covers both the “rom” and the “com” side of the equation. It also looks at casting, shooting locales, story basics, themes, music, costumes, on-set anecdotes, and plenty more. This is a rather standard commentary in terms of its information delivered, but fans should enjoy the open, breezy feel. With optional English, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai subtitles.
Q&A with Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King, JJ Feild, Ricky Whittle, and James Callis (HD, 32:45): Moderator Jenelle Riley sits down with the cast for a discussion about the film. With optional English, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai subtitles.
Austenland Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:05).
Previews: Additional Sony titles
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.