“Damn tedious waste of an evening…”
Mr. Hurst, Pride and Prejudice (A&E)
David and I did not see the newest Pride and Prejudice when it came out in the theater last fall. I was not terribly impressed by the trailers I saw and am not inclined to go to the theater and drop $20 for a movie I’m not totally convinced is worth the money.
However, after it had been out a while I read several reviews online by fellow bloggers. Most of them indicated that while it could never live up to the A&E production, this one was good in its own ways and had something to offer. So when the movie was released on DVD last week, David and I reserved a copy. I had a guarded optimism that perhaps the trailers had misled me and I would enjoy this version even if it couldn’t compare to the other. I went into it with a genuinely open mind, ready to enjoy at least some of it.
Always trust your first instinct.
Several years ago CBS had a TV series called Christy based on the novel of the same name by Christian author Catherine Marshall. I loved it! I own the series on VHS and would gladly pay to convert to DVD if it came out. At the end of what turned out to be the final season there was a huge cliffhanger regarding whether Christy would marry the minister (the safe choice) or follow her heart and hold out for the doctor. Despite the biggest letter writing campaign CBS has ever seen, they canceled the show. It was very sad to not have that storyline resolved. However, a few years later someone decided to do a follow-up movie and resolve that storyline. David and I both looked forward to the movie, but we felt a little apprehensive because most of the major characters had been recast. The original actors and actresses were fabulous and it was hard to picture someone else in the role, but we were hopeful.
We were right. It was EXCRUCIATING to watch. It was so poorly done it was literally physically painful to watch it. I felt like screaming because I thought it would never end. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way about a movie before or since.
Well, until I watched the new Pride and Prejudice.
Twenty minutes into it my hope was fading fast that it would improve. An hour into it I could have turned it off except for the fact that if I didn’t watch the whole thing I couldn’t write my scathing review. So I stuck it out, watching the counter on the DVD player move SLOWLY forward. Part way through the second half I started laughing out loud and there was nothing funny going on in the movie. David asked me why I was laughing. I told him I had just thought of the perfect quote to use in the opening of my blog post on this movie. (See opening quote.)
Now to be fair, I thought that maybe I didn’t like the movie because it was so short. I mean, they FLEW through some parts and left others out completely. So maybe I was expecting too much from a two hour movie. But, no, that’s not the case. Two good examples of two hour movies that do a great job with their novels are Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility and Winona Ryder’s Little Women. Those movies are incredibly well done within the two hour time constraints. So it wasn’t just that the movie was too short.
It was just poorly, poorly done.
So how did I dislike the movie? Let me count the ways. But before I do that, may I point out something?
David happened to pick up a copy of USA Today the other day (we never read it) and it had a cover story about the production company that produced P&P. When I looked at the article, it all came together why I disliked this production so much. The same company that produced P&P produced the homosexual-themed Brokeback Mountain. I sincerely believe after watching this P&P that there was no intention of producing a movie that was accurate to the storyline. It was a production with an agenda and that agenda appeared to me to be to make this P&P the antithesis of the A&E production. In other words, take everything good and positive and beautiful about that production and replace it with what is ugly, slothful, and negative.
So here is what I liked:
Elizabeth’s hairstyle at the Netherfield Ball
That’s it. I’m not joking. There was NOTHING else I liked about the movie. Well, ok. The pond scene was pretty even if it was inaccurate.
Here is what I didn’t like.
The casting – Could the characters be any less likable? With the possible exception of Mary, every casting was vastly inferior to the A&E version. They were all flat and boring.
What happened to the Wickham storyline? It is a key part of the entire book. They could have added even ten minutes to the movie and at least gotten enough of it in there to make sense. Unless you’ve seen the A&E version or read the book, this part of the movie would have made absolutely no sense.
THE STRINGY HAIR. Good grief! Give them a comb!!!!!!!!! If I had to look at one more set of stringy bangs I thought I was going to throw something at the TV!!!!!
Charlotte Lucas? Hello? What is up with that major storyline rewrite?
No humor. Even the stuff that was supposed to be funny was stupid. When the women were scrambling in the parlor because Bingley and Darcy came to call, it wasn’t even funny because it was so ugly. Were the Bennets really that slovenly and common that they would act like that?
The music was nice – for a new age CD. Period music anyone for a period production? Hello?
Computer generated scenery? I haven’t researched this, but so much of the outdoor scenery shots look completely computer generated. YUCK.
Lydia and Kitty? Which is which? I couldn’t tell them apart. And most of the time I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
Lady Catherine shows up in the middle of the night after the family is in bed? Um, propriety questions come to mind?
Elizabeth and Darcy meet at dawn? Hello? Propriety again? This felt completely contrived.
Bingley – WHAT A DORK!!! He wasn’t happy and easy going. He was an idiot!
Did I mention the STRINGY HAIR?????
What was the deal with Lizzy on the swing?
Was Mr. Bennet a gentleman of some means or a dirt farmer? Was that a pig running through the house?
Could some of the secondary characters be any less appealing? Georgianna? Col. Fitzwilliam? Uncle and Aunt Gardiner?
And speaking of secondary characters… What did they do to poor Caroline Bingley? Yes, she was a proud person, well aware of her station in life, but she was at least human in the book. This woman was so cold and shallow she wasn’t even believable.
Were the nudes at Pemberley really necessary? Elizabeth gazes on a portrait in the book, not a sculpture surrounded by nudes. (Reference earlier comment about production company.)
Have I mentioned the STRINGY HAIR????
Could there be any less chemistry between Elizabeth and Darcy? I mean, really? I could have cared less if these two got together there was so little tension and chemistry.
And speaking of tension… The tension between Elizabeth and Darcy in the A&E production was one of the best parts of the movie. This movie had none.
And, lastly, could the final scene be any dumber? I remember reading that they added it for the American audiences. Yuck.
So, there’s my take on this movie. On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 2 and I’m really being generous only because it seems like shame to drag anything associated with Jane Austen much lower than that. My recommendation? Avoid this production at all costs unless you are suffering from insomnia. Well, no, that won’t work either because it is such a tedious movie that your blood pressure will rise and you will never get to sleep.
Count sheep instead.