Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I saw the previews on the internet and they made the show look very amusing. But I'd learned my lesson with "The Hangover" and was not going to take anything for granted.
Maybe it was a trick.
So, I looked up the dvd of "Lost in Austen" on Amazon.com and read the reviews there. They were nearly 100% raving positive. Adjectives like "delighful", "light-hearted" and "fun" showed up often. And I was was repeatedly promised that any true Austen fan would simply adore this British TV mini-series.
Reassured, I carefully downloaded the original, full version and then settled down to watch it with my children.
And guess what?
I didn't like it.
At all.
It was badly-written, vulgar and had plot holes big enough for a particularly large apatosaurus to walk through. And how I wished one would have done so and mercilessly trampled the people responsible for the script. But I digress...

First of all, here's the Amazon blurb describing the plot :
"Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth...and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories"

Not that it's accurate-from the moment the heroine steps through the magical bathroom wall-door, nothing goes according to the plot of the novel. And it's strange that this supposed "fan" of Austen, who has read 'Pride and Prejudice' a hundred times, doesn't even blink an eye when a major character shows up immediately, long before he's supposed to.

The problems with the plot are too numerous to go through one by one. But here's an example: Amanda prances around the Bennet household for a day wearing her 21st century pants and top. Nobody seems the least bit surprised or shocked. And when one of the sisters finally remarks on her "unusual" clothing, she tells them it's her "otter-hunting kit". Right.

The really horrible moments, though, arise from Amanda's 21st century vulgarity. While she's supposedly someone whose always dreamed of living in the elegant civility of the past, she seems to have a LOT of trouble curbing her mouth and her behavior. She gets drunk at a ball, insults people (even when not drunk) with charming epithets such as "bumface" ('buttface' to you Americans out there) and just basically wreaks havoc. So much for making an effort at fitting in.

Many of the plot problems stem from the fact that the scriptwriters apparently never read the original book. For example, when Amanda arrives, Mr. Bennet offers her Lizzie's bed. Anybody who has read the book even once knows that Jane and Lizzie share both a bedroom and a bed. But Amanda goes upstairs to the room and it's all hers alone, with a single bed. And then she wakes up, surprised and shocked to find Lydia in bed beside her. She accuses her of looking for "girl on girl action" and then, in the biggest gross-out moment of the film, she flashes her "pubes" at poor Lydia and talks about her "landing strip".
Are films based on Jane Austen booked supposed to have gross-out moments?
I don't think so.
It was really repulsive and gratuitous. It has nothing to do with the plot- in fact, it made no sense at all, and was not even funny. Especially for people trying to watch with their family.

It's such a shame, as the idea was cute and there were a few good moments in the film. Not many- but a few.

Frankly, I don't know what to make of all these self-described "Austen fans" who "love 'Pride and Prejudice' saying that this is a great show and that it does Austen proud.
They are possibly all on crack.

finally, since I hate write only negative things... which I seem to do a lot of lately - here's my hint for the day to make your life better: If you are an "Austen fan" just because you have read 'Pride and Prejudice' (or because you think Colin Firth is hot when he's all wet), please take the time to read some OTHER novel by Jane Austen besides P&P.
May I suggest 'Persuasion' ?
It's the last book that Austen finished before her death at age 42. It's my favorite and is probably the most deeply touching of all her novels. If you must have a movie, get the Amanda Root (1995) version, NOT the 2007 version. The latter makes too many changes to the plot. On top of that, male characters tend to spend 'quality time' together, confiding their innermost feelings to each other...I was expecting a drum circle at one point. This male-bonding advances the plot faster, but is not very true to the spirit of the novel.
Anyway, I hope you'll read it. And if you've already done so, maybe I've inspired you to get it out again...

BTW: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"? No, no and again, no. Thank you.


Joy said...

Oh, dear... Hee hee. Sounds like you've been enjoying MY usual luck in picking movies, lol! My condolences on the colossal waste of precious movie-watching time. ;)

And Persuasion was my first Jane Austin novel, and is by far my favourite...

Heidi said...

I only saw the last two episodes of "Lost in Austen" by which point she'd mostly lost the cursing and was fitting in more, so I didn't mind it. Would not have gotten that far if I'd watched the initial episode, however, based on your review!

I don't mind the 2007 version of "Persuasion," really, because I liked that Anne quite a lot, although the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version certainly is better.

Beth said...

JOY- I'm so glad there's another voice added to mine on this. P&P is a wonderful novel, but it's overexposed at this point. I really think 'Persuasion 'is her finest work..

Heidi- I thought actress Sally Hawkins was a fine Anne, too! What actually bothered me about the 2007 version was the anachronistic changes the scriptwriters added. They had Austen's characters doing and saying things that were completely unacceptable according to the norms of genteel English society. Just kind of a peeve of mine...

oreneta said...

They are all possibly on crack!


Beth said...

Until now, I'd thought that being addicted to crack and reading early 19th century literature were mutually exclusive activities. How wrong I was....