Do you love Jane Austen novels? Does Mr. Darcy make you swoon? (Colin Firth, am I right?)
Have you never missed an episode of Walking Dead? Are you feeling withdrawals and desperate to find out who fell victim to Lucile’s bloodlust?
Me too! If you’re looking for some light romance and zombie killing this summer, take a look at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I read the book by Seth Grahame-Smith back when it was published in 2009, but the movie version just came out this year. So, full disclosure here – it’s farcical nonsense. It’s a romp, and a silly one at that, and if you are an Austen purist, well, I can understand that you might hate it.
But I loved it. LOVED it! I did! It was like going somewhere new with an old friend, and having more fun than I expected.
Seth uses Jane’s original prose and weaves zombies into it’s Regency world. We are introduced to a society where the feminine arts of dancing, drawing and singing are augmented by training in deadly martial arts to combat the rising tide of hungry undead. Balls and social gatherings are regularly interrupted by marauding herds of brain-hungry newly-risen, and just traveling from house to house in the country is fraught with great peril. Seth’s writing is in addition to the original, but otherwise follows the major arc of Lizzy and Darcy’s story.
What I liked most about this book – it was a fun twist on a much loved old friend. Yes, zombies were fun. The bizarre contrast between the two genres was comedic. Seth clearly wasn’t trying to make it the next great dramatic novel; I don’t think Jane herself took her society too seriously. I found myself laughing twice over, at Jane’s humor, and Seth’s new stylings.
They’re all very pretty to look at, every major character is easy on the eyes. Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bella Heathcote as Jane Bennet and Douglas Booth as Mr. Bingley make a beautiful foursome that does not have to depend on the lovely period clothing. Like the mashup novel, I don’t think they took themselves too seriously.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Charles Dance as Mr. Bennet and Lena Heady as Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Everyone’s performances made it seem like the whole thing was just a lark for the whole cast – like they were all just there to have fun. I am no acting critic. I don’t think any will get Oscar nods for PP&Z. I suppose too, some will call me simple, or unsophisticated because I was entertained by this.
But I was. I wasn’t expecting great depth or meaning. I wasn’t looking for some deep spiritual connection that would resonate within my soul. I was looking for a light romp to divert my attention for a few hours.
Okay, it was not perfect. I know, you’re shocked. The entire story arc diverges widely from the original. W-i-d-e-l-y. Setting aside that people crawling out of their graves is not very likely, it has some serious plot flaws. I think the filmmakers vastly underestimate how long it takes to get from one place to another on horseback – with Lizzy riding pillion no less! It strained my suspension of disbelief. Strained it, I tell you! But, in a world where refined ladies go to Japan and China to learn how to fight so they can kill zombies, I was already stretching it pretty thin.
You know stretching is good for you though, right? Keeps your mind limber. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is light and funny for whiling away some time. We all need that from time to time.