Much like every trend, America jumps on to what the UK did much better in film. After the rousing success of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, America followed up with “Book Club.” There’s nothing wrong with a movie appealing to the older mature audiences in the mood for a good time that’s not centered on superheroes or animated characters, but “Book Club” is just such a waste of time. It takes a brilliant cast and wastes them in what feels like latter day Garry Marshall when he was trotting out awful holiday based ensemble films.
Bill Holderman’s “Book Club” centers on four women and best friends, all of whom are experiencing new directions in their lives. Now reaching the peek of their adulthood where they’re expected by most people in society to settle down, they’ve proven that they’re ready to begin a new chapter. Every month for thirty years Diane, Vivian, Sharon, and Carol meet up to discuss their newest read, and chat about where they are in their lives. When they decide to read “Fifty Shades of Grey” (t-the book about misogyny, and mental abuse), it creates a spark within them to seek out new forms of happiness, hoping to live out the rest of their lives without regrets.
“Book Club” primarily centers on Diane Keaton’s character Diane who, after losing her husband, is being badgered by her two frumpy daughters to move closer to them. This doesn’t inspire too much optimism within her, especially as she crosses paths with an old friend (Andy Garcia) who is now a pilot. Meanwhile there’s Vivian, a rich hotel owner who is used to one night stands, but finds potential stability with a new man (Don Johnson), Carol, a house wife is anxiously trying to revive her sex life with her husband (Craig T. Nelson), and finally Sharon, a workaholic who is still getting over her tough divorce who begins falling for a man (Richard Dreyfus) she met on a dating site.
“Book Club” garners such a stellar cast of brilliant character actors, and never really does much of anything with any of them. It’s wrought with ancient romance comedy clichés, and goofy sex jokes; it’s just beneath each and every one of them. The cast of Jane Fonda (who is still devastatingly sexy), Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen, and Diane Keaton could lead a wonderful drama comedy about reaching a certain point in your life, and showing everyone that old age doesn’t mean you have to stop functioning and looking for new experiences.
Instead we get a ton of double entendres chucked at us at an almost lightning fast speed, and some absolutely trite sub-plots that never amount to any kind of interesting message or statement. It’s just a lot of candy coated junk with these cast members drinking wine and making jokes about orgasms, and genitals. Every character feels like such a broadly written cliché, right down to Keaton’s frumpy daughters insisting she move near them, all the while dragging around dutiful husbands and kids in carriages. With four main stars that broke such barriers and changed the way women have been perceived on film, you just can’t help but think that they deserve much better than what feels like one of the dozens of cheap “Sex and the City” copies from the early aughts.