By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 9 2013 08:04PM
Shannon Hale’s Austenland is not a great work of literature: it’s a mildly entertaining beach read with a cute romantic denouement. The movie version could have been a sweet, funny summertime romantic comedy, something for us girls to see while the menfolk were occupied with “Boys Blowing Things Up, Part VIII.”
Much though my little feminist heart longs to support "Austenland" as a rare, female-centric movie – producer Stephenie (Twilight) Meyer noted in a Hollywood Reporter interview that it's “based on a novel by a woman, scripted by women, produced by women, directed by a woman and starring a woman” -- honesty compels me to report that it's appalling.
It’s not bad like a guilty pleasure, or bad like an interesting experiment gone wrong, or even so-bad-it’s-good. It’s just bad – unfunny, unsexy, and uninterested in any of the real questions that its story might raise about women, romantic fantasy, and Jane Austen’s relationship to both.