Plot: Diane (Diane Keaton) lives alone after the death of her husband, while her kids try to shuffle into a retirement lifestyle that she doesn’t want, but she takes solace in her circle of friends. She has been friends with these women for decades and one of their longest traditions still continues, as they still meet for a book club. The group reads a book and then discusses what they’ve read, but it is really a reason to talk about their lives and bond over shared experiences. But Vivian (Jane Fonda) wants to shake up the formula and to that end, she has chosen Fifty Shades of Grey as the next book, a choice that isn’t a popular one. Once the women dive into the book, they find their romance desires heightened and explore those feelings, some with new partners and others with familiar ones. Will the women discover romance has passed them by, as they fear is the case or will they find all they could want and more?
Entertainment Value: Book Club boasts a remarkable cast and while the material is slight and predictable, it also has some charm and the loaded ensemble is able to make it better than it should be. This is pure chick flick stuff, but it is nice to see an older group of stars on showcase and while a lot of age related jokes crop up, this is a warm, mostly respectful approach. The Fifty Shades of Grey element is more of a spark that leads the women to talk about their sex lives and romantic prospects, so if that is your main interest here, you might be disappointed. There are some references to the book and the material is a little racier at times than expected, but the general tone is sweet and rather naive even in some scenes. But you do have multiple scenes that center on Craig T. Nelson’s erection, so if you have no tolerance for sex related humor, keep in mind the movie does revolve passion and romance. The humor is light and brisk, which matches the pace and overall tone, so Book Club never tries to be insightful or deep, just a fun watch. So if you’re a fan of light romantic comedies or some of the film’s stars, this one should be worth a look.
This is one of those movies where the cast is so deep and talented, you don’t notice how thin and predictable the material is. Or at least you don’t notice it as often, since the performances are so fun it distracts you from the narrative. Diane Keaton has the lead I suppose, but screen time is divided well between all four of the leading ladies, who then have various supporting players within those threads. So Keaton is joined by Andy Garcia, Alicia Silverstone, and Katie Aselton, while Candice Bergen’s story has Richard Dreyfuss and Ed Begley, Jr., for example. So there’s a larger arc about the bond between the four leads, but each one is given an individual thread as well, though some are more involved than others. Mary Steenburgen’s side story is just her trying to get laid, so there’s not much to work with, but it is a humorous diversion and has a couple of the more memorable moments. Jane Fonda and Don Johnson round out the side threads, but there are numerous familiar faces sprinkled around as well. None of the performances are going to win awards, but the cast is game and embraces the light, brisk tone, so it is fun to see them in such enthusiastic turns.