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Movie Review: ‘Book Club’ Puts Feisty, Funny Women at the Forefront, Despite Their Age

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon – © 2018 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy García, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss, Craig T. Nelson, Alicia Silverstone

Director: Bill Holderman

Running Time: 105 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Drunkenly Scrolling Through Dating Apps and Slipping Viagra Into Your Husband’s Drink Without Him Knowing.

Release Date: May 18, 2018

The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise is a hard topic to cover. While most, including myself, find it appalling that such an abusive relationship (and I’m not talking about the BDSM aspect) became acceptable in mainstream culture, others credit it for normalizing the sexual desires of women, especially older women.

Book Club uses the latter idea… as a jumping off point.

When it’s Vivian’s (Jane Fonda) turn to pick her book club’s read, she decides she and her buddies should read Fifty Shades of Grey. See, things aren’t that great in the love department for these gals. Vivian, a hotel mogul (and my new inspiration), is more into “no strings attached” relationships, having denied the marriage proposal from the love of her life many years ago. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge who just found out her ex-husband is getting married to a much younger woman. Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent widow with two kids who are pleading her to move into their basement in Arizona. And happily married chef Carol (Mary Steenburgen), is looking for something to set a spark between her and her husband.

But, once they’re introduced to Mr. Grey, things start to change. Vivian’s old flame checks into her hotel (not a metaphor), Sharon tries dating apps, Diane meets a handsome pilot who notices her choice of reading material on a plane, and Carol signs up for a dance class. As they go through each story in the trilogy, their personal paths have their ups and downs, simultaneously going from praising the book and to detesting its unrealistic content.

Unfortunately, that’s as deep as it gets. Yes, the film made me laugh out loud many times, and seeing multiple women over 60 leading a film warms my heart, but it’s a generic, feel-good movie. Compared to something like Grace and Frankie, another Fonda-starring comedy that tackles the challenges of aging women in today’s world, this barely scratches the surface of problems older women face in the love department.

But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s like comfort food as a film: a little bit generic, but oh so delicious.

While the number of wine glasses may have outnumbered the laughs (mostly because these ladies are drinking wine in almost every scene), and the perspective may be a little too privileged (all the main characters are white and have highly successful careers), who doesn’t love a story about older women getting their groove back, especially in an age when a typical Hollywood leading man is paired with a love interest at least 15 years younger?

Book Club is a movie you can take your mom and your grandmother to, especially if they’re feeling a little feisty.

Book Club is Recommended If You Like: The Fifty Shades series, Hello, My Name is Doris, The Golden Girls, The First Wives Club

Grade: 3 out of 5 Terribly Photoshopped Pictures from the Past

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