Thursday, February 26, 2009


CHICK FLICK DATING TIP: When picking up a hot chick in a bookstore, be sure to hide your Star Wars hardbacks.


Coyote Hotty, Blunt Force Wowie, a cheatin’ Sifuentes, a lezzy Shannon lost in the fog, nerdy Dancy fancy-pants, Old Lady Redgrave the suicidal clown, and the Stephen King of hoity-toity lovelorn weepy marriage-destroying doily-wetting British novelists.

More details here.


We open with a funny and clever montage of modern life’s more frustrating irritants: bogged traffic, people gabbing on cell phones, credit card swipes that won’t work, and Jimmy Smits’ goatee. (Well, at least I thought I saw a goatee.) To escape the stress of everyday life in the metropolis of Sacramento, aging MILF Bernadette (Kathy Baker) assembles her friends a book club devoted to the novels of the ubiquitous Jane Austen to reflect on unrequited feelings, the pursuit of truth in oneself, and the strength to deal with another of life’s frustrating irritants: love. Amongst the participants are Jocelyn (Maria Bello) - a lonely dog-trainer skeptical of finding true love, recently divorced and depressed Sylvia (Amy Brenneman), Sylvia’s lesbian daughter and clumsy thrill-seeker Allegra (Maggie Grace), straitlaced intellectual but emotionally wrecked Prudie (Emily Blunt), and hunky Sci-Fi nerd Grigg, a token man recruited by Jocelyn as a potential date for friend Sylvia. The group bonds over time while exploring the ideas and thoughts on love found in the books and eventually each of them finds parallels in their own lives to Austen’s poofy narratives. Jocelyn is in denial over her feelings for the much younger and curiously eccentric Grigg. Sylvia is still in love with her philandering husband (Smits). Allegra is not so allegra and is having issues with her writer girlfriend who’s stealing ideas from her. High school teacher Prudie is in a dull marriage, deals with her crackpot Mom (Lynn Redgrave) and has the taboo-ish hots for studly student Trey (Kevin Zegers) whose teeny-bopper smoldering act is begging for a thousand punches with a barbed wired fist. Um, but I digress. Eventually, the group becomes hypnotized by the fantasy world of Jane Austen and each finds guidance in the works for their own paths in life. But most importantly of all, somewhere beneath the criticism of the prim and proper ways of her time, beneath the sweet and sappy romancing, and beneath the charm and irony of Austen’s writing, they find fudge cake.


Back when I was Little Tremendo, before I even had thoughts of reaching the glandular heights of my eventual professional wrestling and movie blogging career, I was a dumpy, clumsy, tubby kid. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe. I recall one childhood memory when I was invited by a distant cousin, a famously douchey jock in our town, to his birthday party on the more well-off, whiter side of town. I was the only one who showed up in a shirt and tie, the only one with polished patent leather shoes, and the only one wearing a rooster-inspired wrestling mask. The bigger boys played tackle football and talked about girls and carburetors. My only cultural expertise at the time was Porky Pig and Chocodiles. I was an instant outcast. No one talked to me, looked at me, or acknowledged my presence. Even when the cousin opened my gift, an awesome stainless steel airplane model with folding wings, he cast it aside without a thank-you or nary a care towards my feelings. Dick. This was my earliest memory of being ostracized, alienated, and uninvolved and it definitely did not feel good. I experienced an uncomfortably familiar tidal wave of déjà vu when watching today’s movie The Jane Austen Book Club, an experience that almost demands a rudimentary familiarity with Austen that I sorely lack. The memory of that shit-fuck cousin laughing at me and my frosting-stained tie distracted me for the first thirty minutes of the movie. I felt as if I had been invited to a Jane Austen themed birthday party where everyone was dressed in period costumes and speaking Austen-ese while I had shown up with Spock ears and an Austin 3:16 T-shirt. So you see the dilemma I faced when trying to get into this film, an effort that was arduous to say the least. But the movie eventually settles into a level of formulaic enjoyment and sense of humor that made it moderately entertaining. Its flaws are many, but you can mostly narrow it down to the lack of depth in any of the characters (except for the outstanding Blunt who again steals the show), and as a result there’s little insight into Austen’s work that doesn’t rise above popular conceptions of her writing. Was she the rom-com queen/chick flick princess of her time? Maybe, or maybe not. The Jane Austen Book Club doesn’t do much to persuade the uninitiated to pursue Austen’s novels, but the movie is a harmless, often heartwarming story about friendships, relationships, and the paths that love leads us. And for at least 100 minutes, I was able to forget the memories of those hulking teen bruisers who mocked my Coke-bottle glasses and shoved me in the mud while they high-fived each other and presumably went off to shower together.

Did Jane Austen ever write a book about bloody revenge?

No comments: