Sunday, May 27, 2018

Movie Review: "Book Club" (2018)

Director: Bill Holderman
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

A group of longtime friends approaching their golden years meets every month for their book club. Their latest book is "Fifty Shades of Grey," which sparks a desire for romance in each of them.
"I don't care what society says about women our age, sex must not be taken off the table." (Image Source)
It turns out baby boomers like to engage in sexual activities and want to have spicy love lives just like the rest of society! "Book Club" is directed by first time director Bill Holderman, who also helped write the screenplay with Erin Simms, a first-time screenwriter. The story focuses on four longtime friends, Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen), who are now in their golden years. The four have held a monthly book club consistently for many decades. The women have just finished their last book, "Wild," and Vivian, who is the most free-spirited of the bunch, picks "Fifty Shades of Grey" for their next book. As the women start to read the naughty novel, they begin to take a good, long, hard look at their loves lives, and each of them starts to think about what they might want out of their relationships. Diane, a recent widow with overbearing children, meets a guy who might allow her to find happiness again. Vivian, a self-made, independent businesswoman and swinging bachelorette, reunites with the man who could have been "the one" and discovers nothing has changed in 40 years. Sharon, a slightly prudish divorcee and Federal judge, has remained celibate for the nearly two decades since her divorce and is finally throwing herself back into the dating world on Bumble. Carol, who has been married to the same man forever, is trying to find new ways to reignite the spark in their marriage that has fizzled out since her husband retired. What are these women to do when they have Christian Grey as their spirit guide?
"To even be holding this book is embarrassing." (Image Source)
For the most part, "Book Club" is a by-the-numbers but still charming romance/friendship comedy. Each woman has their own stereotypical character to play, and each actor is very fitting in that role. Jane Fonda plays an unattached, hyper-sexualized swinger very well. Candice Bergen has always been believable as the slightly stuffy career person. We've seen Mary Steenburgen play roles like this in the past, even going as far back as "Parenthood" in the 1980's. Heck, she has even played Craig T. Nelson's wife in an earlier film. Diane Keaton literally plays a character named Diane. Need we say more? She has been doing this same role exact since "Annie Hall" without much variation. All of these women are extremely believable as four friends who have been through it all and have known each other since college.

There is also a solid supporting cast as well. The men who play their love interests include actors like Don Johnson, Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss (who has one of the better scenes in the film with Candice Bergen), and the aforementioned Craig T. Nelson. Johnson plays the nearly perfect Arthur, Vivian's "one that got away." Garcia is perfect as the suave, devilishly handsome, stoic, loaded bachelor Mitchell. Nelson plays is a typical retiree who now doesn't know what to do with himself. Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton play Diane's helicopter daughters, Jill and Adrianne, and are the most annoying part of the movie. We're sure that someone, somewhere, treats their mother like they were an infant like Jill and Adrianne do. These characters insert themselves into every aspect of Diane's life, so much so that we started to wonder if they were going to chew her food and spit it out for her, too. C'mon Alicia, you thought we forgot? We'll NEVER forget. These characters are supremely irritating, but on the upside, we guess we have to call their performances "successful" since they were clearly instructed to go for "irksome." They certainly do a good job being just that.
"I just feel like it's worth living a little while we still can." (Image Source)
We're not going to lie. We laughed a lot during "Book Club," though I did laugh more than BigJ did. Like the rest of our viewing audience, I got a kick out of 3/4ths of this film. Unfortunately, the script is as predictable as can be. There are no surprises in the story. There's nothing new here, and while this movie won't win any awards, the cast is funny enough to make the experience both tolerable and moderately enjoyable.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.3/10
RT Rating: ~57%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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