Jane (Keri Russell), a lifelong Pride and Prejudice fan, travels to a Jane Austen–themed English estate that guarantees period authenticity. This immersive vacation spot also promises a chaste, quasi-scripted romance with one of its actor-portrayed archetypes: a beardstrapped swashbuckler, a fey colonel (scene stealer James Callis) or the brooding, Darcy-ish Mister Nobly (JJ Feild). Disappointed by the resort’s artifice and materialism, Jane leaves these men to her vulgarian companions (Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King) and instead goes after a flirty stable boy (Flight of the Conchords's Bret McKenzie, an adorkable peach).
When filmmaker Jerusha Hess follows Austen’s lead and treats her characters with a distant, knowing smile, she hits her rom-com marks and reality-versus-artifice themes with a satisfying squee: Throwaway quips are enhanced by timely cutaways; visual jokes—a propped-up pheasant, a litany of crinkle-faced reaction shots—land before they can wear out their welcome. But the Napoleon Dynamite cowriter-turned-director should have applied her editorial eye more consistently; Coolidge and King especially are allowed to wander into mugging far too often and for far too long. By the time we get to a painful play-within-the-cosplay-within-the-film scripted by Jane Seymour’s grande dame, a truth becomes universally acknowledged: Actors “acting badly” is rarely funny.
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Cast and crew
This truly-atrocious travesty seems to have been made by people who have never actually read (or respect) Austen's work, but watched the movies (or read the Cliff's Notes) instead. The acting is awful, particularly by the reliably ridiculous Jennifer Coolidge, whose stupid lines & dumb delivery of them is compounded by her botoxed face. Why her character would spend an exorbitant amount of money & take an expensive trip to another continent, simply to dress like a "wench," is not able to be explained. Nothing makes the slightest sense or conforms to the historical period (ex: a Caribbean captain, who sides with what he calls his "British brothers"--more like enlavers--against the French). It's an insult to the intelligence of all literate fans.