Saturday movie review: 'Austenland'

Movies based on the lives of authors or anything remotely related to authors, though often good, tend to be, well, a tad stuffy and serious. That is so very much not the case with AUSTENLAND. And yes, the "Austen" part of the title does indeed relate to the esteemable Jane Austen, author of such classics as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and So. Many. More.


A comedy about dear Ms. Austen? Well, it's not just a comedy; it's a romantic comedy. It's also a piece of fluff and puff. Nothing serious, nothing remotely deep or edifying. Nothing more than just plain puffy and fluffy fun. And that's exactly what makes it so very much worth watching.

AUSTENLAND is the story of Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a plain Jane of a gal who is completely, totally and ridiculously obsessed with all things Jane Austen. It should come as no surprise that the young gal's social and romantic life suffers, so in an effort to find a mate similar to marvelous Mr. Darcy, Jane blows spends her life savings on a visit to... Austenland.

Fun, fun, fun.

How could AUSTENLAND be anything but fun, though, when in addition to Keri Russell, the cast features in prominent roles the delightfully funny — sometimes even gasp-worthy funny — Jennifer Coolidge as well as adorable and endlessly amusing Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame. (What? You don't know Flight of the Conchords? Get ye to some clips of that show now! Well, after you finish reading this review.)

AUSTENLAND is based on a book of the same name by Shannon Hale, who helped co-write the screenplay with director Jerusha Hess (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE).

Yeah, AUSTENLAND is ridiculous, but it's ridiculously fun. And sometimes that's all one wants in a film.

For more ridiculous fun, enjoy this blooper reel from AUSTENLAND (don't worry... no spoilers here!):

AUSTENLAND (rated PG-13 for "some suggestive content and innuendo") is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and iTunes. Find out more on the AUSTENLAND website — a fittingly fun romp through the details of the film — as well as on Facebook.