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Sundance review: "Austenland"

Published January 22, 2013 7:56 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"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.