The importance of being Earnest is a satire by Oscar Wilde where being earnest simply means having the name Earnest. The film dramatization of Wilde's renowned play is a comedy of manners and what is quite comic is the way it is structured. It is a series of verbal fencing matches where all the characters are trying to make their own respective points.
The story takes place in both London and the English Country Side. It all starts in Algernon's apartment in London. His friend Jack, who for reasons embodying the farcical nature of the play adopts an identity "Earnest", wants to marry his cousin Gwendolen. Jack proposes to Gwendolen who accepts, but her mother Lady Bracknell disapproves of his marriage proposal because Jack has no proper family. The story's plot takes twists and turns leaving the audience wondering what will happen next. Although the audience does suspect the characters will eventually come together it cannot figure out how and when.
Oscar Wilde is criticizing the upper class in Britain in attempting to show its flaws and frailties. Wilde ridicules its behaviour and mannerisms and succeeds in revealing how absurd they are. English upper class society, during the period in which Wilde wrote this play, had their social mores that had little substance but which they still were obliged to follow.
I think the characters are well paired. The contrast as couples between Jack and Algernon, Gwendolen and Cecily, Lady Bracknell and Ms Prism are well defined and lends fodder to the farce. They complement and challenge each other verbally in the whole movie.
The movie was amusing, in my opinion, but perhaps it was a bit too twisted. I find it really interesting the way Wilde brings out his own opinions about the British upper class and the satire and irony surrounding it. Though it is a comedy he is trying to point out with the potent use of farce and satire what is wrong in the English aristocratic society and he does it very well.