Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Alicia Silverstone, Richard Dreyfuss,
Producer Bill Holderman gets behind the camera for the first time as director on Book Club. Holderman knows a thing or two about films catering to the 60+ crowd as he helped launch both Robert Redford films A Walk in the Woods and Lost at Sea. Holderman’s movies always focus on privileged, white, American characters. The lack of diversity in Book Club is disappointing but expected. Holderman’s script is a check-list of clichés found in nearly every mature comedy. All four actresses are playing caricatures of their most recognized personas. Despite the poster showing the four women together, the three Oscar winners, and an Emmy winner, have little screen time together.
Friends for the past 40 years, the women meet once a month for a book club. Vivian (Fonda), the promiscuous and vivacious of the group, decides they need to spice things up with Fifty Shades of Grey. “To even be holding this book is embarrassing,” Sharon (Bergen) says, a federal judge by day and lonely divorced cat lady by night. Carol (Steenburgen) and her husband Bruce (Nelson) seem to have the perfect marriage, but fetishes from Christian Grey spark ideas for the housewife. Then there is widow Diane (Keaton) who stumbles upon love visiting her daughters in Arizona. The raunchy book proves to be such a hot topic, the women begin focusing on all the excitement they are missing out on.
The lack of diversity in Book Club is disappointing but expected.
Book Club will certainly be funnier if audiences are familiar with plot lines from the E.L. James Grey trilogy which only just concluded its motion picture run this year. Aside from the expected cute old people jokes, Book Club doesn’t have a lot of entertainment value. It’s ideal counter programing for summer blockbusters that typically only cater to the under 40 crowd. Despite it’s flirtations with mature romance, Book Club manages to stay on the PG-13 side of things with only fleeting bad language. One of the most insignificant but appreciated moments in the film is where Diane asks her pilot boyfriend Mitchell (Garcia) about his wealth, which he explains. Otherwise the lifestyle of the women doesn’t often match their characters circumstances.
Lacking authentic comedy, Book Club’s biggest misfortune is that these four talented women are given little to do. Keaton as expected, dresses the same as every character she’s played in the last decade, frantically panicking in each situation, as she does in every movie. You could swap her in Somethings Got to Give and be unable to tell the two women apart. 80-year-old Jane Fonda continues to defy her age, spinning around, feet in the air, she looks stunning, and gets some decent jabs, but this isn’t anything new from her either. Mary Steenburgen is again playing the wife and the mom, but her role has the most resonance and takeaway for viewers.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is now a trilogy.