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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' Movie Review

Janice Chung | The Observer
Janice Chung | The Observer

In case you were wondering, convincing your single friends to go see a movie titled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” on Valentine’s Day takes a little more effort than you might expect. I was mostly met with a lot of blank stares, and my roommate even inquired if it was a movie that was currently playing in theaters, obviously shocked that anyone could get real Hollywood funding for something that sounded much more like bad fan fiction than an actual screenplay.

Jokes aside, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” actually is essentially glorified fan fiction. Originally a book, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was authored by Jane Austen and Seth Grahme-Smith, the latter of whom has made a career out of turning classic tales of love and adventure into sci-fi mashups that somehow create best-sellers, despite all odds (“Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and “P&P&Z,” just to name a couple). Honing in the largely untapped but obviously existent overlapping “Pride and Prejudice” and zombie apocalypse fandoms, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” topped out at the No. 3 spot on the “New York Times” best-seller list and has since obviously gained enough hype to squeeze a blockbuster film out of zombie decay.

I, a 21-year-old female who happens to spend a lot of her free time watching “The Walking Dead” and re-reading the works of Jane Austen on her Kindle, am a lucky part of the niche audience the film’s producers were hoping would raise fan-girl excitement about such an unlikely adaptation. Having watched the trailer and cast interviews months prior, I worried the film would spend too much time taking itself seriously and not enough acknowledging the inherent absurdity of such a premise. However, sitting in the theatre with jumbo popcorn, Twizzlers and two loyal friends whom I managed to drag with me, I found my fears quickly settled and my friends quick converts. While “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” did intertwine certain tones of seriousness through the violence and gore, at its core, the film felt light, in no way attempting to be the next great action romance but charmingly accepting itself as the pure entertainment it turned out to be.

Austen purists, many of whom consider “Pride and Prejudice” to be the holy grail of early 19th century romance, find the film blasphemous. With numerous changes to the original plot, the absence of original characters and the whole flesh-eating undead thing, the movie is not what you would call "faithful" to Jane and her loyal followers. Despite having seen the life-changing 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of “P&P” enough times to be considered obsessed, I would in no way identify as a purist, but instead as someone who is very familiar with the source material. When sitting down to watch a “Pride and Prejudice” adaptation, especially one that throws a few zombies in, I've found I’m not looking for a page-by-page translation. “P&P&Z” gives Austen fans another way to enjoy our favorite love story, the themes of romance and heroism remaining, while adding to the excitement of the story through a few scares and well-executed action sequences.

Even the novel's central character, Elizabeth Bennet, considered by many to be one of the greatest heroines of all time, is given a bit of a makeover. Already an anachronistic feminist within Austen’s original tale, the Lizzie we see on screen in “P&P&Z” is even more independent, making it very clear she is in no need of a man to marry or to kill zombies for her.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is a fun, entertaining spin on classic romance that doesn’t require being a die-hard fan of Jane Austen to be enjoyed. Taken for what it is — entertainment at its most basic and brainless — “P&P&Z” is sure to be an hour and 40 minutes that won't kill you.