Fans of romantic fiction may enjoy this gimmicky comedy, which cleverly plays around with Jane Austen's fiction but kind of misses its own joke. The screenwriters seem to think they're combining sudsy fantasy with darker realism. But actually everything on screen is plainly ridiculous, only livened up by a couple of the actors.
The story starts in America, where Jane (Russell) is so obsessed with Austen's novels that she's sure Mr Darcy is coming for her any day now. So she spends her savings on a holiday at Austenland in England, where Mrs Wattlesbrook (Seymour) lets her clients live as if they're in a 19th century novel. Jane's only fellow guests are Elizabeth and Amelia (Coolidge and King), both of whom flirt shamelessly with Nobley, Andrews and East (Feild, Callis and Whittle), the actors on hand to play dashing bachelors. But Jane is more interested in sexy stable boy Martin (McKenzie).
As the script strains to layer romance and fantasy into this goofy set-up, there are a few snappy one-liners that get us laughing, thanks mainly to the expert improvisation skills of Coolidge, who can make anything funny. By contrast, Russell is annoyingly naive and sulky, while King tips the opposite way into broad farce. The men are more interesting because we occasionally get to see them as the actors they really are, but none of them are very complex, and we can guess where the story is going from the start.
Continue reading: Austenland Review
Is it Vince Vaughn's Penny, a distrusting telemarketer with questionable morals? Or is it Ed Harris's Kelly Grant, a kingpin of telephone sales who recruits Penny to help him sell $2.5 million worth of investment shares in a gold mine? Or something else altogether? Penny takes this "prime gig," mainly because it gets him closer to Kelly's girlfriend (Julia Ormand), which, combined with his inability to sell anything on the floor, starts to land him in hotter and hotter water. Is any of this legit? Who's conning who? The Prime Gig takes its sweet time in getting to the answer, but it's definitely a worthwhile trip to take.
Continue reading: The Prime Gig Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.