Austenland

 
(i)

 

Frothy, teen-friendly romcom skims surface but is still fun.
  • Review Date: August 18, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Love -- and life -- doesn't follow the trajectory of books (or movies, for that matter). Women don't need rescuing; neither do men. All you can do is be true to yourself, and if something, and someone, is meant to be, so be it.

Positive role models

Jane is really appealing as a heroine. She's relatable, understandable, and vulnerable, yet she stands up for herself and is open to a world full of possibilities, romance, and friendship. She doesn't lose hope.

Violence

Two men get into a fight at an airport; a man forces himself on a woman, but she trips him up and stops him.

Sex

Couples kiss, sometimes passionately, often tenderly; some sexual innuendo/suggestive dialogue.

Language

"Crap" is about the extent of it.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is lecherous and seems drunk all the time.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Austenland (based on the novel by Shannon Hale) is a fun romantic comedy, despite the fact that it falls back on some of the typical romcom cliches, making it seem like women need to be rescued from a life of loneliness by romance. Still, it does try to question those predictable assumptions somewhat and is buoyed by strong performances. Jane Austen fans will particularly enjoy the inside jokes and references to her work. There's not much language (except for "crap") and no drinking (though one character acts drunk), but you can expect some kissing and heavy flirting (as befits a movie with an Austen theme).

What's the story?

Jane (Keri Russell) is a huge Jane Austen fan. Her entire apartment is filled with Austen-abilia, including a life-sized cardboard cutout of the actor Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy. Life, for Jane, is drab and dreary, her job going nowhere fast, the men misogynistic and opportunistic. So when she discovers that there's a theme park in England for Austen-philes like her, where she can live out the fantasy of being an Austen heroine headed for a happily ever after, off across the pond she goes. There she meets the money-minded proprietor of Austenland, Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour); a friendly, ditzy American who goes by her Austen moniker, Ms. Charming (Jennifer Coolidge); and Ms. Wattlesbrook's nephew, the brooding Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild). But it's the stable hand/groundskeeper, Martin (Bret McKenzie), who's Jane's true lure. But is he Mr. Right?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It won't be a classic like the books written by Jane Austen, who's revered here, but AUSTENLAND (itself based on the novel by Shannon Hale) is worth the investment, anyway, if only to see Russell conduct a master class in naturalistic acting. As silly as her character may sometimes be, she's authentic and relatable, which elevates this fairly formulaic movie. That and the delicious Coolidge, who often trades in wacky, frothy roles like Ms. Charming but nonetheless still makes them seem fresh and funny.

Alas, Austenland lacks a mesmerizing Darcy, or any compelling male love interest, for that matter. They pale in comparison to Russell, their characters drawn thinner than onion skin. (It's also lacking in the brilliant banter that made Austen's work so appealing.) The movie sometimes tiptoes into substantive territory when it has Jane straining against the circumscribed roles that women in Austen's times were assigned. But in the end, it's a trifle -- albeit an amusing, somewhat satisfying one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Jane's obsession with her namesake. What is it about Jane Austen's fictional world that appeals to the character Jane? Why is it unhealthy for her? Do you have to be an Austen fan yourself to appreciate this movie?

  • Do some books (and movies) set up unrealistic expectations about romance and love? If so, how so?

  • Does Austenland question the stereotypes of the romcom genre or uphold them?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 16, 2013
DVD release date:February 11, 2014
Cast:Bret McKenzie, Jane Seymour, Jennifer Coolidge, Keri Russell
Director:Jerusha Hess
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Genre:Romance
Topics:Book characters
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some suggestive content and innuendo

This review of Austenland was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent Written byOptimisticMom February 15, 2014
 

Disappointing!

There was WAY more than sexual innuendo and wow the amount of cleavage. I guess that my family is more conservative than I thought. There is a 5 second scene that I felt was completely unneeded and inappropriate that supposedly had to do with a "soap opera," but was over the top. I would not recommend watching this with children. My husband said the best part was when "The End" flashed across the screen. If you're basing watching the video on the book you'll be disappointed in the liberties that were taken.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bylogical_nonsense September 23, 2013
 

Not sure...

I have to say that I watched the trailer, and I thought that it seemed a little more dirty than what I had been hoping for. I read the book and was excited for the movie adaption but was also slightly wary of the PG-13 rating. Because the romance would probably be amped up even if there wasn't very much in the book, but given that there was a fair amount in the book I'm thinking thats why "Austenland" received the rating it did. However, ratings are not everything so I just might watch this movie once I've looked into it a little more.
Teen, 13 years old Written byTweeterhead March 2, 2014
 

Austenland: Review

I've seen the six hour Pride and Predjudice, the regular Pride and Predjudice, and the North and the South ect. This is not what you think it is. It is nothing like the Jane Austen movies. I absolutely LOVED tis movie! I would totaly watch it again! There were some funny parts, romantic parts, charming parts, I highly reccomend this movie to people ages 12 and up. Just so you know, there is a alot of romance stuff. There is a guy who is clearly gay, and an other guy who watches videos of himself passionately making out with women which is kind of wierd, and an old married guy who tries to force himself on someone, but 12 year olds can handle it. Me and my mom watched this and I just fell in love witht the story!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex

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