The Village Voice: "Austenland is a Rom-Com With Uncommon Spirit and Wit...the cast dishy fun, and Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale's breeze of a script (based on Hale's novel) is smart about the allure of fictional romances."
USA Today: "Austenland has sense of humor and literary sensibility...Based on the novel of the same name by Shannon Hale, who co-wrote the script with first-time director Jerusha Hess, Austenland is spirited and gently witty. But its biggest asset is Russell, whose easy charm and down-to-earth Everywoman quality keeps us rooting for her. In essence, this is a light parody of Austen's novels, and fans will enjoy the subtle allusions and knowing winks....A humorous chick flick for well-read audiences, Austenland is a novel concept."
Lovely! And then...we get reviews like the one from a little known paper with hardly any influence or reputation whatsoever that surely no one has ever heard of let alone pays any attention to (The New York Times) that gave it 1 of 5 stars and ripped it apart at every turn. Blerg.
The NYT wasn't the only negative review (though it was by far the worst), and last week I started to feel disheartened. When looking for films to see, I often look at the combined review ratings of sites like Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, and though Metacritic's is slightly better, Rotten Tomatoes score was decidedly rotten. Our baby! Rotten!
Was I wrong? Was the movie actually not as funny and delightful as I'd thought? I began to scour Twitter to see what strangers were saying.
Jenn Lapp: "i don't want to live in a world where austenland only gets a 33% on rotten tomatoes."
Adam Cwiklinski: "Austenland was a hilariously pleasant surprise. Ignore rotten tomatoes on this one."
Ah, bless you, strangers Jenn Lapp and Adam Cwiklinski! And because I'm naughty, I kept searching Austenland on Twitter. Sometimes I found things I didn't like (and naturally went into deep mourning), but overwhelmingly the opinions of the common man and woman were really happy.
Connieonnie: "Austenland one of the few movies I didn't leave disappointed...it was everything I dreamed and MORE...sad I have to wait a month to see again."
Amy Mills: "LA peeps: Run don't walk to see Austenland. AWESOMESAUCE!!!"
Stephanie Ruble: "Saw the awesome Austenland movie tonight. Hoped it would be like the book (it was & so much more). A little bit of romance & lots of laughs"
Sarah Shumway Liu: "This weekend I saw AUSTENLAND on the big screen. I giggled and giggled and swooned...even my non-Austenfan husband laughed and enjoyed! Jennifer Coolidge did it for him!"
Darcy Lueking: "My entire screening of Austenland actually went "awwwww" and burst into applause at the end of the movie. Solid Sunday"
Jake Abel (actor, star of Percy Jackson): "Ladies, go check out Austenland if it's playing in your city. You'll laugh your balls off.... wait."
Stacy Whitman: "Just got out of Austenland. Verdict: HILARIOUS. The whole theater was laughing the whole way through."
So the question remains...will you only be 33% pleased, like the aggregate of Rotten Tomatoes? Or wish you could give it less than 1of5 stars like that hardly-respected-or-heard-of-whatsoever-institution The New York Times? Or will you agree with stranger tweeter Simini Blocker: "Austenland was FANTASTIC. So so funny. To echo a comment I keep seeing— Can't remember the last time I laughed so much in a movie." What will your verdict be? The suspense! Dun dun DUN...
This weekend Austenland is open in select cities in UT, CA, DC, AZ, MD, IL, and still in NYC and LA. If your city isn't on the initial release list, hopefully it will be soon! Salt Lakers, I'll come do either a pre-or-post movie Q&A with the audience at four Austenland showings this weekend. Thank you so much to all who came out in NY and LA to see our little flick. Your support means the world, and your ticket purchase brought up our theater average to the very best but one in the entire country! I'm not a numbers person, but I know numbers are crucial in Hollywood. They will notice.