I am a Jane Austen junkie. It’s true. When I was hanging out with my best friend a few weeks ago, we discussed Jane Austen books, our dream of traveling to England for an Austen tour, and finally which guy from the six Austen books would she want to have as her man. She was sort of surprised by this. “No one has ever asked me this before,” she said as she started to nibble on her fingers and contemplate this serious question. When she didn’t answer and looked to be struggling with the answers, I started to list the guys out and my opinion of each (know that if you don’t answer a question in a conversation with me, I may just start to share my own opinion). Mr. Knightly is too fatherly and a bit condescending most of the time. Captain Wentworth is a total jerk and though yes, you’re glad in the end that he ends up with Anne, you still feel the jerkiness he put her through the entire time. Ugh. Edward Ferrars was always a little weak sauce for me. And Colonel Brandon has always felt old to me. So I have always liked Willoughby a lot. I mean, he was my most favorite character: he was fun, charismatic, loving, sensitive, interesting, cultured, sweet, and then he turned into a total tool because he needed money. So basically, he sold out his soul and every happiness so that he could be rich. Lame! Then, of course there is Edmund Bertram. He was cool… ish. But in Mansfield Park, I always preferred Henry Crawford. At least in the movie version, but he also, you know, decided to show off his bastard side by getting with Maria Bertram. And then there was Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey that when I first read the book, I really liked. Darcy, yeah, I mean, he’s rich and mysterious and all, but honestly, he would drive me insane. It would be like pulling teeth to get him to talk about anything interesting. You can’t make ME do ALL the talking, dude! Sure, I love hearing myself talk, but it would be nice to actually be able to play off someone else as well. This probably won’t happen though. I’m probably going to end up with a Mr. Darcy because as my mother and sister say, I have a “bold” personality. To date or marry a Willoughby or a Henry Crawford could be harmful because not only would he cheat on or leave me for a richer woman, but he would also divert attention from me with his charisma.
DEAR LORD! I hear you. I really do. It’s ridiculous that I have thought all this out so far. But I, like the character from Austenland, am a crazy girl with romantic notions of how life and love should work in society. I mean as much as I am a feminist at heart and want to have gender equality, I like a little chivalry, at least on the big screen. I like the idea of a guy trying to woo me and win me over. I like the special treatment, the language, the dancing. Granted, I’m not really a girl who could deal with excessive gentlemanly behavior: I’m much too modern and loud and generally obnoxious for this. So in reality, I would never make it in Austenland and I wouldn’t ever spend my money on such a crazy vacation – a vacation to England with trips to Bath, of course, but not to Austenland.
Let’s get into Austenland. There’s a movie called Austenland that is based on the book Austenland by Shannon Hale. I read the book Austenland in early 2011 (I found the record in one of my book journals. #ilovebeinganerd). I disliked the book. I gave it two out of five stars. I found the character ridiculous. She was just so… pathetic. I couldn’t get through the book very fast. So when I first heard that there was a movie based on the book, I was nervous.
The movie though, was SO FUNNY. It starts out with Keri Russell playing Jane Hayes, a pathetic twenty or thirty-something woman whose entire life and existence revolves around Mr. Darcy and the characters and lifestyle of Jane Austen’s novels. Predictably, her relationships failed and she remained single. Her apartment was pretty gawd-awful. Like honestly, she had the Drew Barrymore from Never Been Kissed sort of décor in her room: pillows, dolls, all the crap you really shouldn’t have or display when you are a woman of a certain age.
Eventually, Jane shows up to Austenland, an authentic Jane Austen experience in England where she along with two other women are shown an Austen experience complete with a fancy ball and a practiced Austenesque proposal at the end of the vacation. Jane isn’t like the other ladies: she knows the books and she’s a horrible actress so she can’t really engage in the experience the way she’s supposed to. I don’t really want to give the plot away, but as expected from most Austen-like novels, there’s a good match for our heroine and there’s a bad match for our heroine. You just have to watch the film to figure out which is which. (Hint: Most avid Austen fans love Mr. Darcy for some reason though I’m still not one hundred percent sure why. So her match may be of that general role.)
Did I like this movie?
No. I didn’t like it. I loved it. It was hilarious and over-the-top and cute and sweet and everything the book tried to be but couldn’t for me. Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming added that supporting role that kept the ball rolling through the entire film.
Will I buy this movie? DUH! When is it available on DVD?
Will I watch it again in the theater? I hope so. My friend Sarah wants to see it and I’m pretty sure my best friend Abby would LOVE to see it again, if only she would be willing to drive down here to see it with me.
Austenland is playing here in Corvallis at Darkside Cinema, the only independent, locally owned theater here in town. It’s amazing and I suggest you check it out. And also, read the books… ALL OF THEM. Jane Austen is amazing.
Tata for now.