Sundance review: "Austenland"
Published: January 22, 2013 07:56AM
Updated: January 19, 2013 12:08AM
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| courtesy Sundance Institute The cast of "Austenland": Jennifer Coolidge, James Callis, Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Georgia King and Ricky Whittle (from left).

"Austenland"

U.S. Dramatic

*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)

Turns out Jerusha Hess is the really funny one in the family. The co-writer of "Napoleon Dynamite" (with her husband Jared, who's still pretty weird in a good way) makes a witty and hilarious directing debut, adapting Shannon Hale's novel about a Jane Austen-obsessed woman, Jane (Keri Russell) who goes to a Regency-period theme park that promises to recreate the full Austen experience -- complete with actors assigned to fall in love with her. Jane finds the reality doesn't quite match fantasy, as she's torn between a too-good-to-be-true Mr. Darcy type (JJ Field) and a nice-guy servant (Bret McKenzie, from "Flight of the Conchords"). Hess, co-writing with Hale, sets the scene in motion but leaves plenty of room for her crazy cast — particularly Jennifer Coolidge as an uncouth tourist -- to tune in to her dizzily comic wavelength.

- Sean P. Means

"Austenland" screens again: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City; Monday, 6:30 p.m., Peery's Egyptian Theatre, Ogden; Tuesday, 8:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City; Thursday, noon, Egyptian Theatre, Park City; Saturday, Jan. 25, 3:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City.