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The Jane Austen Book Club

Chick Lit

Let me sum up this movie in two words: chick flick. Think Steel Magnolias and Beaches but with nothing remotely redeeming. If you're looking for a good date movie or something to see with your mother or friends, this is not the movie to pick. Go eat dinner or have some ice cream or talk about your feelings instead, and expect to see The Jane Austen Book Club, directed by Robin Swicord, running on the "Lifetime" channel shortly.

When strong, independent 40-something Jocelyn's (Maria Bello) beloved dog dies and Sylvia's (Amy Brenneman) husband of 20-plus years suddenly divorces her, a friend, Bernadette (Kathy Baker), decides they should form a book club in which they read one of Jane Austen's novels each month. (Why she didnít suggest a weekend trip to Vegas or a week at a spa getaway is anyone's guess.)

To round out the group, they enlist Sylvia's young lesbian daughter, Allegra (Maggie Grace), a random woman who Bernadette befriends at the movies, Prudie (Emily Blunt), and bubbly comic book aficionado, Grigg (Hugh Dancy), who Jocelyn picks up at a hotel bar cougar-style. The movie follows the ladies (and man) during the course of six months as their lives morph and begin to reflect the relationship dynamics portrayed in Austen's novels.

Sylvia is trying to pick up the pieces of her life, Allegra falls in and out love, the unbelievably pretentious Prudie, a French teacher, is dealing with the advances of a student, and Grigg is crushing on Jocelyn but she's trying to set him up with Sylvia. Oh, and Bernadette's just plain crazy. You can zone out on whole chunks of the movie because you know, however unlikely it may be, that everyone is going to get their "happily ever after".

The tagline for the film says: "You don't have to know the books to be in the club." They're wrong. If you have never read any of these books, or even all of them, you will very much be lost. It'll be like taking acid and watching "The View"; you will not be able to keep up.

The best thing about this entire movie is Emily Blunt's haircut. It was really cute. Other than that -- nothing. Do yourself a favor: skip this movie and go read one of Austen indelible novels.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars