Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reviews from Austenland


Austenland (The Movie)

I've been making repeat trips to Austenland lately. When I first rented it and watched it on my laptop, I confess I wasn't overly impressed, mostly because the innuendos and whatnot stood out like stains on the carpet of a new apartment as I was first immersing myself in the world. But when I spotted the movie in Target, the humor and strange sweetness came to mind, and I later made it one of my purchases with an Amazon gift card.

Since then, I've re-watched the movie several times. Yes, the crude moments are still there...but they serve as an emphasis for the ridiculousness of this "fantasy land" that turns out to be just as full of human flaws as any "real" place in this world. The movie is such a fun diversion: a reminder that our dreams - and the people that populate them - aren't always what they seem, and yet a "happily ever after" can be found in unexpected ways when we embrace what's real.

The actors really do a brilliant job, and each time I watch the movie I can't help but laugh, chuckle, and smile my way through Jane's misfortunes, mishaps, and mayhem. There's so much silliness and hilarious drama, yet it refrains from becoming too much to handle by lacing in Jane's genuine (and very relatable) emotions. Yes, I will confess that the fact that JJ Feild plays a big role in the film makes me happy... (He won me over as Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey. ♥) And the ending (especially the one for Austenland itself) is just too perfect!

The film is rated PG-13 for a reason, though thankfully the language and sexual content are not explicit. But if you're really uncomfortable with innuendos, this may not be your cup of English tea, so to speak. Otherwise, Austen fanatics should find Austenland a fun place to visit - and they should conclude the journey quite grateful that the park doesn't really exist. ;)

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Rating: Spring


With how much I've been enjoying the movie lately, I couldn't resist picking up a Kindle copy of Austenland with its sale price. I was happily surprised to see that the book starts out quite different than the movie. And as the story progressed, I discovered a fun balance between "new" material and similar elements from the movie. As a blogging friend and I were chatting about on Twitter (S/O to @flowersquiet!), the spirit of the book and movie are pretty much the same.

I confess that I preferred Movie Jane to Book Jane, though. Book Jane felt more self-centered and more free with her affections than Movie Jane, but perhaps that might have been partly due to reading the whole story from only her perspective (and getting much more of her back story). That's another thing the movie allows for that the book does not: a broader glimpse at the other characters, which I quite enjoyed.

One thing I loved more about the book: the heroine's "self-discovery," if you will. I loved that the hero encouraged her to pursue a long-neglected passion, and I loved that the pursuit of that skill started to take over her pursuit of the men at Austenland. That element of the story, and what it said about both the hero and heroine, made me happy.

What about you? Movie or book? Thoughts on either...?

16 comments:

Grace M said...

Interesting review. I love the concept of this movie, but it's the fact it has crude moments, at least that's what I've read in reviews, that have kept me from it. It does look somewhat cute, but I'm not 100% comfortable with trying it.

Julie said...

I was wondering about this movie. I haven't seen it yet. I also didn't know there was a book as well. hmmm, might have to check them out.

A little late to the party, but congratulations on your new job! So excited for you! Looking forward to hearing how well it is going :)

Kandra said...

I agree with both your review and these readers' comments. I reluctantly watched it, against my better judgment, and while it had its cute moments, the crude moments ruined it for me. Still, some will enjoy it, I'm sure. I just wish it could have "delivered" what I was expecting.

Rebeka B. said...

I've seen both the movie and read the book. I read the book first; and I agree with your assessment of book Jane. I didn't like how she just attached herself to one person so quickly, but it does serve a purpose for her arc: she wants to be like everyone else--casual about love. And *spoilers* she discovers she just can't do that--and THAT is what made the book for me. We have a heroine who starts out wanting to be like every other romantic comedy heroine, and learns that she wants what will last more than anything else. Her journey to that conclusion, and that conclusion itself, is actually quite powerful when you compare it to the message of other movies in its genre. Anyways, I loved the book and enjoyed the movie, and I found the cruder elements more downplayed in the book (though it's been a while since I've read it). Miss Charming wasn't so...exuberant, if I remember correctly.

Clara Darling said...

Oooh, I've been wanting to see this! And I am in agreement with you about J. J. Fields. ;)

Amber Stokes said...

Grace,

I love the concept, too - totally relatable, right? Who wouldn't love going to an estate where you can live in your own Jane Austen world for a few weeks? ;)

Yes, the crude humor was a little over-the-top at times, but it did sort of go with the book, in that way. And it did serve to show that this was definitely a fantasy - our contemporary world parading in Austen-era clothes.

As for trying it, I guess it really depends on your comfort level. There's kissing (with a brief glimpse at more heavy kissing), a man taking his shirt off at various times, a song that talks about taking your clothes off, and other somewhat awkward scenes involving cleavage and the like. So if you're really put off by that sort of stuff, just know that it's there. But if you can look past it, there is a cute story in there. :) And as I noted in the review, there's no explicit sexual content.

Thanks for checking out my thoughts!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Julie,

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on both! They're each rather fun in their own ways. :)

And thank you so much! I haven't started yet (the plan is July 7th), but I'll definitely have to let you all know how it goes. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Kandra,

I'm sorry to hear it wasn't your cup of tea. :( I agree that the crude elements were rather played up, keeping the story from being "regency-era appropriate" and as sweet as we'd like. I have come to enjoy it as a comedy, but it's not really "favorite" material. :\

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Rebeka,

That's a great point! Very well-put. :) I think the self-absorbed element, for me, also came with how she treated others. I know she befriended others in the book, as well, but I guess Movie Jane just seemed more innocent and thoughtful to me. I loved her friendships - from the friend at the beginning to Miss Charming. :)

I think there were some elements (like Miss Charming's actions) that were cruder in the movie because we actually "see" it played out, but there were some elements of the book that felt cruder to me, I guess. But all in all, both have their good points and bad, and I really like the point you made about the book! :) Thank you for commenting!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Clara,

Hope you find it fun if you give it a try! And goodness, yes! JJ Feild FTW! ;) ♥

~Amber

Rissi said...

LOVED this movie and did start the book though once again, it was one of those I had to put aside in favor of review copies. Ah, well. I'll get back to it soon enough. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Amber! Great job putting this together, as always. :)

Amber Stokes said...

Rissi,

Some movies are love at first sight - some take their time to woo me. This one falls into the latter category. ;) But I've become quite charmed by it!

I confess I'm not as good as I ought to be about setting aside books I want to read when I've got review copies... Ones with deadlines, yes, but ones without deadlines tend to pile up, unfortunately. :( Anyway, I admire you for prioritizing, and I hope you get the chance to read this one soon! It's fun. :)

Thank you for stopping by, and for the sweet words about my post!

~Amber

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I loved them both but I agree that I liked movie Jane best. I also loved the friends in the movie.

Amber Stokes said...

Juju,

I've enjoyed them both, as well! And Movie Jane is really sweet and relatable, isn't she? And the friends are just great! The atmosphere of the movie is too fun for words. ;)

Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

~Amber

Kara said...

Well thank you for the s/o! (And soooo sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this.) I can absolutely agree that I prefer movie Jane to book Jane. As you said, she's much less free with herself. Although still a bit too free anyway, but I can handle it. Because Nobley is just so.....*sigh* Yeah. That. ;) JJ Feild is quite a handsome and wonderful fellow! :D

I do really enjoy Jane's self-discovery. She learns that real life should take precedence over fictional, but that fiction can still be enjoyed.

And that last scene of the movie? (Or I suppose the first last scene.) Oh my! I love it ever so much more than the book ending! I actually prefer that Nobley is a professor, rather than an actor. And JJ....again.....ahem. Anyway! I'm so pleased you enjoyed both. And that I had a small part in encouraging you to read/watch!

Here's to Jane, both of them! :D

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

Of course! I enjoy our Twitter chats. :) And no worries about the "delay" - there's no time constraint, and I know we're all busy. I think it's super sweet that you came by to catch up on my blog posts! *Hugs*

LOL...I'm totally with you on the JJ/Nobley thing. ;) I LOVE him as Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey, and he did a fabulous job in this movie. Definitely handsome and charming and gentlemanly. :) I also like the movie ending - so cute!! And so fun about his profession. I think it fits very well. :) I did like the dreaminess of the book ending, too (with the airplane), just maybe not as much as the adorable and succinct movie ending.

I like following Jane's journey, as well! Thank you so much for encouraging me to hop on board this band wagon. ;)

~Amber