Director: Jerusha Hess
Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge
Synopsis: Obsessed with Pride and Prejudice (1995), a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search for her perfect gentleman.
Flicks come no chickier than Jerusha Hess’s Austenland (the clue’s in the title) in which thirty-something singleton Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) hands over her life savings to experience life as an Austen heroine in the titular British theme park. Her savings are only enough to buy her a copper package, however, which means that, unlike her fellow Austen fan, a big brassy American named Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), she only gets to ride on the back of the horse-drawn carriage and has to sleep in a servant’s room. Jane finds romance of a sort with Martin (Bret Mackenzie – The Muppets, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!), one of the groundsmen – but is it a genuine romance, or one provided by the management of Austenland?
I’m really of the wrong gender to be commenting on Austenland, because there is honestly not one aspect of it that is designed to appeal to a male – even though the film-makers must know that approximately every other woman in the audience has dragged some poor bastard along to keep her company. It’s not a painful experience, but the material is thinner than a lace doily and instantly forgettable. Austenland the theme park seems to defy economic sense with its staff, numbering in the dozens, catering for a clientele of just three, and its proprietor (Jane Seymour) treats poor Jane like dirt, but I guess applying logic to such a fluffy movie is really an exercise in futility.
If forced to identify any positives, I suppose Russell has a winning character and a brittle beauty appropriate for the role. Coolidge is fun in small doses, but you get the impression she could have been a whole lot funnier with a better script. I laughed twice, but I honestly can’t remember why…
(reviewed 29th June 2015)