The romantic comedy "Pride & Prejudice," set in a contemporary Latter-Day Saints community in Utah, is more like a Cliffs Notes version of the Jane Austen classic than an adaptation.
Amy Heckerling used the title "Clueless" for her far superior 1995 modernization of Austen's "Emma," but it would be even more appropriate for this lost little movie.
Director Andrew Black, making his feature debut, imposes a slick, over-stylized aesthetic better suited to the length of a TV commercial or music video.
The film strains to be hip with its sterilized pop soundtrack and perky graphics. The humor that isn't lifted from the novel is equivalent to that of a subpar situation comedy.
Elizabeth (Kam Heskin), an aspiring novelist in her mid-20s, lives in a nest of squawky Mormon Valley girls.
Man-hungry Lydia (Kelly Stables) and her little sister, Kitty (Nicole Hamilton), are devotees of a romance guide called "The Pink Bible." Socially inept Mary (Rainy Kerwin), meanwhile, thumps the Good Book and scares away potential suitors.
Elizabeth's Argentine roommate Jane (Lucila Solá) peppers her Spanglish with words like "idiotas" and quickly falls for dim-bulb Charlie (Ben Gourley), who has gotten rich marketing classical music CDs for dogs.
As various matches are made and missed, headstrong Elizabeth insists to everyone that, despite her "advanced age," she is not ready to settle down.
For someone who isn't interested in marriage, she sure spends a lot of time deliberating her lack of appealing options. There's the zealot Collins (Hubbel Palmer), who resembles a burlier Anthony Robbins and refers to Elizabeth as Sister Bennett, and the rakish Jack Wickham (Henry Maguire), who proposes a Las Vegas wedding to anyone who will listen. But the man she broods over is the initially priggish Darcy (Orlando Seale).
Anyone familiar with the book or BBC miniseries (or over the age of 6) will not be surprised by the outcome, except for how wholly unengaging and tedious it is made here.
Heskin and Seale make the most of the hokum, but the other actors are saddled with roles that are so broad and caricatured that it's hard to place blame.
Though they bear the names and some of the traits of Austen's characters, any resemblance to interesting people is strictly superficial.
The film's attempts to ingratiate itself by making certain stereotypes — Collins, the mama's boy who spouts anti-feminist rhetoric when rejected by Elizabeth — into objects of ridicule feel forced, especially when the filmmakers eventually pair him off with one of the young women.
It might have been refreshing to see a film that extols virtue to young people if its ultimate message and delivery weren't so calculated to appease.