Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) loves all things Jane Austen, particularly Pride and Prejudice. She dreams about one day meeting her perfect Mr. Darcy, but she also believes that her perfect ideal cannot be found in today’s modern world. Rather than move on from her adolescent fantasies, she chooses to further embrace them and spends all of her savings on a vacation destination based on Jane Austen’s books.
Visitors are given a character and social class ranking based on how much they spent on their vacation package, and hired actors play the part of the perfect Jane Austen dreamboat for each guest. Unfortunately, Jane can only afford the cheapest vacation package, and she is relegated to the servant’s wing and excluded from certain special activities. When she starts to fall for the charming servant Martin (Bret McKenzie) and the prickly Darcy-like suitor Henry Nobley (JJ Feild), Jane has to figure out if she is really in love or if these men are just playing a part.
Austenland is not as good as it could have been, but considering its inclusion on many “Worst Films of 2013” lists, I don’t think it was as bad as some critics painted it. The plot is predictable and silly, but the actors elevate the material. Battlestar Galactica’s James Callis as Colonel Andrews was very funny and worked well as a parody of the Austen mustachioed military man. Austenland’s worst crime as a film is not aspiring for more and not searching for a deeper social commentary in women who romanticize the past. As it is, the film occasionally has a few laughs, but it is otherwise forgettable fluff.
The DVD release comes with a Q&A with Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, and Jane Seymour as well as a commentary with Jerusha Hess and Stephenie Meyer.
"Austenland" is on sale February 11, 2014 and is rated PG13. Comedy, Romance. Directed by Jerusha Hess. Written by Jerusha Hess, Shannon Hale. Starring Bret Mckenzie, James Callis, Jane Seymour, Jennifer Coolidge, Jj Feild, Keri Russell.