You're probably right if you think you might get a couple laughs out of a movie titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. You're also right if you've guessed that this gung-ho but cruddy-looking mashup fails from A to Z: It's neither good Austen nor good zombie flick. But in those moments when it's bad at both at once it can be as delirious and delicious as the opening line of the lit-prank paperback it's based on: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
If you like that, you might relish seeing warrior-daughter Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) underscore a point of argument by popping the buttons off Mr. Darcy's waistcoat with a weaponized letter opener. You might cheer when Darcy (Sam Riley), now a colonel in the war against the living dead, works a feat of corresponding dexterity upon Elizabeth's bodice -- with a fireplace poker. Elizabeth and Darcy spat and spar, dance and declaim, reeling through epigrammatic Austen dialogue with diction-class poise. It's not just cheek that gets this over. The scene has heat, danger, charm and words it's actually worth these actors' time to speak.
Call it parody, pastiche, remix, whatever -- for some 30 minutes of its running time, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transcend its premise to become something fresh and full-blooded.
Too bad it wants for more of such inspiration. Other than the gowns and the cast, there's little here to look at. Too much of the film is a drab drag, and once it leaves Austen behind for the usual good guy/bad guy sword fights, it sinks into just another pointlessly violent waste of everyone's time, a no-joke slog that doesn't make zombies better -- it makes Austen worse.