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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Good news about P&P&Z?

For months, the best news I could imagine hearing about the filmed adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith’s best-selling 2009 mash-up, would have been word of its demise: as blog readers will recall, I wasn’t crazy about the book and groaned at the idea of a movie.

Unaccountably, the project went ahead despite my opposition, and now, with seven months until the February 5 release, I find myself heartened to read this article, despite the rather anachronistic frilly underwear on prominent display in the accompanying photos. I’m now cautiously optimistic that the movie, which sets Austen's story in an English countryside plagued by a zombie scourge, won’t be quite as terrible as I’d anticipated. (High hopes indeed!)

If director Burr Steers and his leading lady, Lily James, are to be believed, we may be spared the excruciating tastelessness of our last big-screen Austenesque outing, 2013’s appalling “Austenland.”

‘“ ‘The idea was that it was Pride and Prejudice set in this alternate world and then for everyone to play it straight,’ Steers explains. “The movie’s big wink is that there is no big wink.” . . . So brace yourselves, James says. ‘It’s definitely not camp.’ ”

If anything could make this story work, playing it straight seems like the most promising approach – though I still have my doubts. Without extra campiness, you’ll be staking everything on the inherent drollery of the contrast between the tea-and-crumpets stereotype of Austen’s world and the blood-and-mayhem archetypes of zombie movies – an inherent drollery essentially captured, in its entirety, by the project’s title.

Will that, plus frilly underwear, be enough to keep us going for ninety-plus minutes? Stay tuned. . .

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