Skip to main content

Originally published Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 3:06 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Austenland’: a pale replica of a literary romantic comedy

A review of the wan comedy “Austenland.”

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2 stars

‘Austenland,’ with Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour. Directed by Jerusha Hess, from a screenplay by Hess and Shannon Hale, based on the novel by Hale. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and innuendo. Several theaters.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >


It is a truth universally acknowledged, or it should be, that merely invoking the hallowed name of Jane Austen does not a comedy make. Such is the case with Jerusha Hess’ “Austenland,” a wan comedy aimed squarely at whoever it is who buys all those “Austen-inspired” books cluttering up the publishing world.

Keri Russell plays Jane, a 30-something American single woman obsessed with Jane Austen to the extent that you wonder what’s wrong with her. (She’s got a life-size cardboard cutout of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in her bedroom, for heaven’s sake.) Because this is a movie, Jane decides to spend her life savings on a trip to England for a stay at a sort of Jane Austen theme park, where paying guests dress in costume, assume a Regency-era identity and are romanced by an assortment of Austen-ish male characters.

This is sure to end well, right? Of course it does, after a lot of nonsense involving Jennifer Coolidge’s cleavage, a very fast horse birth, an excruciatingly dull performance of a play (it’s as if time stops), Jane Seymour holding a lamb, and a waste of the puppylike appeal of Bret McKenzie (of “Flight of the Conchords”) as a costumed suitor. Jane, played by Russell with enthusiasm but little wit, eventually figures out that she wants something real; pity she didn’t come to that conclusion a little earlier. “Austenland” is silliness without charm; something the real Miss Austen would never countenance.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Get ready for 2015

Get ready for 2015

The Seattle Times 12-month wall calendar features hand-picked photos of life in the Pacific Northwest. Order while supplies last!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►