Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Austenland

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To describe 30-something Jane Hayes as a Jane Austen fan is more than an understatement; her one-bedroom flat is swamped in Austen-ness, from the antique china cup & saucers lining her mantlepiece, to having ‘DARCY WAS ‘ERE’ spelt out in novelty letters above her bed, she is infatuated. But the adoration is ruining her love life too, because she is so in love with Pride and Prejudice‘s dashing Mr. Darcy, that it drives away any potential boyfriend she could get. (usually resulting in the bloke being so pissed off, he exits her flat and takes a swing at the life-sized cardboard cut-out of Colin Firth’s Darcy on his way out the door.

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So what’s a girl to do?.. blow her entire life savings on a trip to England of course. Jane visits a local travel agent, who lays the perfect package on the table – a once in a lifetime ‘Austen Experience’, which sees the holidaymaker fly over to England and stay at a glorious stately home and live out the Austen way of life.  Of course, the stately home is named Pemberley, and each ‘holidaymaker’ is given a character name (think murder mystery evening), then spends the following week living out the Jane Austen novel.

However things are about to take a more than theatrical turn, when Jane falls for the furry, rogue groundsman Martin (an out-of-place Kiwi) – and the dashing, smooth-talking sweet-faced Mr. Henry Nobley.  And suddenly, her dream of meeting a Regency-era gentleman becomes more non-fiction than she could ever have imagined…

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Well. That was by far, one of THE WORST movies I’ve ever sat through at the cinema..

Great Idea

OK, let me cut the crap – Austenland was just awful. And I honestly mean that. The fact there wasn’t even a trailer shown at the cinema for it says it all. And its absence online also says it all – you know one of those search results on Wikipedia that brings up just a few lines and nothing else? This is that film – the internet didn’t give a shit. And neither do I.  Its only the concept which is a great idea. The whole premise of Austenland is rather swish; travelling to a different country to live out your favourite novel on a dedicated resort, and dressed as the characters. That bit is cool. I personally love the whole Regency era attitude; the exquisite dress sense, the class, the manners – and Pemberley is just splendid. A place you’d be honoured to neck a cream tea at. Overall, not a bad concept and this could’ve made a very fine movie..

 

What Went Wrong

I remember back in my college days; when I studied Performing Arts – our teacher would hand the class of us a script to play out. You know that classic ‘the group just don’t gel well – each actor is totally different to the next’ atmosphere? Some are awful, a few can’t be arsed to be in class, one is brilliant and really into the script.. Yeah, well welcome to Austenland.  Although the quality of acting never faltered, this had to be one of the chalkiest cast ensembles I’ve ever witnessed. There was one scene where the ‘players’ had to put on a play – Miss Elizabeth Charming was hilarious, and stole the show with her ‘so much make-up she actually looks like a man dressed as a woman’ persona and wacky one-liner’s. Although this scene was the characters playing characters (a play within a play), it smacked us audience with that classic ‘college days’ scenario I just mentioned – inadvertently proving that the real-life actor ensemble was just shit.

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What Went Right

Simliar to a first date, if a movie can make me ‘LOL’, I’m won over. And Austenland managed to do this in one or two places. At one point, I heard a woman behind me laugh out loud then turn to her husband and whisper “this is just ridiculous” 

BANG – she got it, right there. ‘Ridiculous’ – sums it up.  Bad pantomime, A-Level college performance, Comic Relief 12-minute sketch where a bunch of newsreaders dress up and perform a famous book / movie… ridiculous.

The references to Pride and Prejudice and its era were good enough – costume, set and decoration all portrayed well. But perhaps it was the directors idea to not go overboard, by displaying a somewhat ‘tacky’ resort.

Elizabeth Charming / Jennifer Coolidge

Miss Elizabeth Charming (played by Jennifer Coolidge) was shocking. And I mean shocking as in, I didn’t know where to look whenever she opened her mouth. I might YouTube the actual actress to see if she’s different, because her character was fucking abnormal; yes she delivered some very funny one-liner’s and comic moments, but she was nothing short of surreal whenever on screen. One of those actresses (or characters) who had me frowning, neck craned toward the screen as I thought to myself: “what the…FUCK?” 

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Keri Russell

Keri is a fantastic little actress; she is expressive and delivers well. (I thought she looked familiar, and it took me a moment to realise she played the babysitter in Honey I Blew Up The Kid, back in 1992 – she’s matured nicely) – its just seemed a bit of a step down to put her in this movie.  One of the final scenes sees Jane at the airport on her way home, when she is stopped by one of the cast; there is a split-second bit where she stands on top of her suitcase and shouts out in the middle of the airport; which is possibly one of the worst, under-acted, cringeworthy moments I’ve ever witnessed. Apart from this, she delivered the rest of the movie.

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I will end this review by asking you all to NOT PAY TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. Oh, Jane Austen fans may just revel in it because they may wriggle in their seats, with an “agh! look – thats Pemberley House – I know this because I am a fan of the book” reaction.. for the rest of you, please DO NOT subject yourselves to such an abomination of cinema.

Again, a movie which hasn’t even been advertised in the cinema or on TV, has hardly any search results on the internet, and all of 5 lines written about it on Wikipedia says it all.

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The director had the audacity to include a goof “music video” at the end of it, whereby the cast bop around like idiots to Nelly’s ‘Hot In Here’ – to which I tiptoed out of the auditorium..

..and then RAN like Hell down the hallway outside.

1/10

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2013 by .
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