Del and Mladen review ‘The Jane Austen Book Club’

“The Jane Austen Book Club” Starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Hugh Dancy. Directed by Robin Swicord. 106 interminable minutes. Rated PG-13.

Del’s take

When I suggested to Mladen we review something other than science fiction or horror I had no idea he’d go soft and squishy. But after consulting some of the ladies in our presence he came up with “The Jane Austen Book Club” which set my skin to crawling.

The words “Jane Austen” conjure an image of a spinster snuggled on the couch with her embroidery and her kitty cat, listening to classical music and fondly remembering the one and only night of her life that a beautiful man French-kissed her.

“The Jane Austen Book Club” stars the entire female population of Planet Amazonia, and Hugh Dancy. It is about a group of demasculating, wine-guzzling, teenage boy-seducing harpies who plot to subjugate the men in their lives by proposing an ultimatum: Read Jane Austen … OR ELSE. At least that’s what I got out of it.

Incredibly, the men cave to this ridiculous coercion and the movie wraps with a stomach-turning group cootie exchange.

Did I just give away the ending? Oh hell, I don’t care.

I find myself irritated by movies like “The Jane Austen Book Club.” The characters live in the most expensive state in the nation, wear stylish clothes, drive $40,000 Volvos, own mansions, don’t appear to ever work for a living … and wring their hands because hubby would rather watch a basketball game than rhapsodize about some lame English romance writer who died almost 200 years ago.

Gimme a break.

After watching “The Jane Austen Book Club” I felt the need to cleanse my palate with something more uplifting, like “Reservoir Dogs.”

Guys, do the words “chick flick” mean anything to you?

Stay away. Stay far, far away.

Ten million yawns.

Mladen’s take

I watched “The Jane Austen Book Club” on a Sunday night and the following day took a shower using French vanilla and cinnamon toast-scented shampoo.

I’m surprised Del, who’s far more cosmopolitan than me, didn’t react the same way.

The movie is a delicate, often charming, introspective about a group of people coping with maturing lives.

It was refreshing to learn that regular folks in Jane Austen’s time — she died in 1817 — also had to deal with the complexities of lovers found and lost and friends found and lost. Just knowing others across centuries have experienced what I have experienced is comforting.

The movie made me a more complete man.

OK, I’m lying.

“The Jane Austen Book Club” is a standard, putrid take on comfortable middle class people looking for purpose.

They use each other, commit adultery, make poor choices and, in the end, it all seems appropriate and normal and good and healthy. In short, it’s like the reading club members are running for president.

But, more than anything, what good is a movie that doesn’t need 7.1-channel, 75-watt per channel, DTS Neo:6 Cinema-filtered sound amplification to help get its message across?


“The Jane Austen Book Club” has a running time of about 1 hour, 46 minutes and that means it was about 1 hour and 45 minutes too long.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a journalist and author.