Today would have been Austen’s 240th birthday, if she were a highlander, of which there can be only one. (And you know what they say about a single highlander: A single highlander in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good book). Over the last two centuries, her work has been adapted in dozens of different ways, from the fairly straightforward (BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries) to the fairly straight forward but with zombies (Pride and Prejudice with Zombies) to the as if (Clueless). But perhaps the strangest posthumous use of the Jane Austen name was the 1998 screwball comedy Jane Austen’s Mafia!, which was later shortened to just Mafia!
Jane Austen’s Mafia! is not an adaptation of any of her works—Austen sadly either never wrote a book called Mafia! or, if she did, the manuscript has been lost. In fact, it doesn’t really have anything to do with Austen at all. It’s just a joke at the expense of all the Austen adaptations that followed the success of the BBC P&P miniseries.
It’s also not a very good movie—if you’ve seen Airplane!, or the Naked Gun movies (or even Slap Shot, which really doesn’t hold up), all of which Jane Austen’s Mafia’s writer and director Jim Abrahams worked on, you’ve seen a much better version of this movie. But, hey, you won’t see projectile vomiting like this in a Jane Austen novel!