Plain Jane

Here's a divine secret: These chick movies are getting old.

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The Jane Austen Book Club chick flicks Written and directed by Karen Joy Fowler; Starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, and Kathy Baker; Rated PG-13; Opens Friday
Hugh Dancy and Maria Bello have a robust discussion about Pride and Prejudice with their eyes.
Hugh Dancy and Maria Bello have a robust discussion about Pride and Prejudice with their eyes.
If you can't get enough of the Mutually Supportive Sisterhood narrative, there's every chance you'll go for The Jane Austen Book Club.

It's a perfectly pleasant, perfectly undistinguished adaptation of a market-driven novel about six Sacramento lovelies, who try to mend their stalled or broken lives while massaging one another's feet. Like most MSS stories these drearily formulaic days, this one comes accessorized with life lessons from Jane Austen. Her novels offer pregnant parallels to the dilemmas of these neurotic but nice exurban book-clubbers, plus one pretty male nerd in the inoffensive form of Hugh Dancy.

You can't outright hate a movie that stars Maria Bello (even as the capable singleton who can't commit), or the excellent Emily Blunt (even as the nervous Nellie unable to see the good stuff right under her upturned nose), or Kathy Baker, predictably cast as the much-married port-in-a-storm.

But it's hard to tell who's panting most eagerly in pursuit of all possible chick demographics: Karen Joy Fowler, who wrote the giddily commercial novel; Robin Swicord, who wrote and directed the film capably enough; or the companies that have so eagerly placed their products, which pop their merry little heads into practically every frame of this stolidly suburban romance. As for me, I eagerly await the mad bitches of Nicole Holofcener's next movie.

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