Daily Chick Flick: The Jane Austen Book Club  

I think focusing on chick flicks that were either critically-acclaimed or heartily-recommended by friends was just a plain stupid idea. How often does an everyman like myself enjoy something simply because it received a couple of thumbs up and a pat on the back? Hardly ever, at least for that reason alone. With that said, the rest of the movies this month will either be ones that purposely suck so hard they're painful, or something that I personally feel might be watchable.

In spite of the above paragraph, I'm not completely closing the door on suggestions. In fact, I realized that the suggestions I had been getting missed their mark so widely because I never really provided a reference point. So... off the top of my head, these are some of the chick flicks I've enjoyed the most in years past; Meet Joe Black, Love, Actually, High Fidelity, 50 First Dates, Princess Bride, Definitely, Maybe, Dan in Real Life, and Legends of the Fall. I've covered the topic of "date movie vs. chick flick" before, meaning I understand that some of those are probably closer to the date movie side of things. But it's really the best I could come up with on such short notice, and all this time spent splitting hairs is time that could be spent Googling movies for me to watch.

Rest assured that today's movie will offer no confusion as to its place. The Jane Austen Book Club is a chick flick through and through, spanning generations and representing all the cliched genres of cinematic woman folk. There's the recently divorced woman whose husband found another woman. Her lesbian daughter with severe intimacy issues. The hot, nonconformist spinster who secretly longs for love. The oldest of the group - married six times, divorced just as many - filled with sage relationship advice even though she obviously has no business offering it. The pensive, unhappy newlywed whose absentee husband places her on the cusp of a scandalous affair. And lastly, the token gay guy. Well, he wasn't actually gay in that he sleeps with men, but pretty much everything else fits the bill, up to and including joining a Jane Austen book club, and minus the sci-fi obsession.

Now that I've set the cast of characters for you, I can't imagine I need more than another sentence to go over the plot, so here goes. The oldest of the group starts a book club out of support for the one who just got divorced, and since they are all Jane Austen buffs, her works become the central theme of the book club AND begin to draw some rather boorish parallels to the personal lives of all involved with it. Not bad, though I really think I should have been able to nail that one in less than 100 characters. Let's try again. Crazy women discuss books about plain women and end up slightly less crazy than when they started. Success!

I've always been a fan of intertwining stories and tasty little subplots to chew on, and this movie was full of them. It's only a shame that so many of them ended poorly, and I don't mean for the characters. Even the hot lesbian daughter and her equally hot girlfriends failed to keep my interest. They never kissed on screen, and probably due to the film's PG-13 rating, I've jerked off to hotter scrambled Cinemax than anything they could come up with in the bedroom. Then there was Jimmy Smits' character, father of lesbian daughter and guy who recently left her mother for a new woman. As in pretty much every other chick flick in existence, he soon realizes the grave error of his decision (coincidentally right around the time the new girl dumps him), and in the end he gets her back by crafting a well-written letter. On his computer. In real life, that letter would have been closer to a slew of sloppy drunken 2 am phone calls and a threat of suicide before she even considered taking him back.

In the end it might surprise you to hear me say that this movie wasn't a complete waste of time. Emily Blunt played the part of a dejected, longing wife extremely well. The same could be said of Hugh Dancy and his portrayal of the young, wealthy, closeted gay guy who loves sci-fi almost as much as he pretends to love women. There were also one or two little quirks at the end of the film that I hadn't expected, which is something I always appreciate, provided it's not like the retarded song and dance number that closed out The First Wives Club. As for The Jane Austen Book Club, I'm giving it 3 1/2 pink tacos for an intriguing balance of awkward, sexually-confused characters that didn't make me want to pour bleach into my eyes and ears.

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4 Reasons to Live

  • Diane  
    May 15, 2009 at 7:20 PM

    "Crazy women discuss books about plain women and end up slightly less crazy than when they started. Success!"

    Your time on twitter has not been wasted.

  • Anonymous  
    May 16, 2009 at 7:53 PM

    I haven't seen this one. I loved Love Actually and 50 First Dates.

  • Becky  
    May 17, 2009 at 7:53 AM

    I watched this by myself and was so glad that I didn't use one of my "chick flick" chips with Ted on this. I like Jane Austen but this film was pretty cheesy. I noticed you seem to prefer chick flicks where men are the dominating character (or are at least 1/2 the ensemble). I wonder if you'd like Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. I didn't have high expectations of it, though, but thought it was entertaining (esp. if you've ever been with someone tht's obsessed with something).

  • Monkey Girl  
    May 17, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    I'll admit, I just watched this movie on Comcast on Demand the other day.

    At first I thought it might be interesting...hey, a cute lesbian, could be good.

    But alas, it was a cheesy chick flick where everyone was happy and deliriously high at the end of the movie in a so-not-real-world-kind-of-way.

    And I like Maria Bello.
    Such a shame.

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