1 1/2 Stars
The Book Club takes a half-baked concept, adds four capable actresses and then strands them in a film of utter predictability, and banality. This is essential The First Wives Club 2. I can’t express how lazy the writing is in this picture, the story doesn’t even bother to develop any of its characters, either leads or supporting and then goes for a ‘big’ ending that I found rather depressing. Critics used to complain about the amount of product placement in Adam Sandler movies, but The Book Club may have the single most advertising of restaurants, bars, websites, apps, moving companies that I’ve ever seen in one picture. The film is a wall-to-wall ad for life in the 21st century, too bad that’s the only realistic element in this fluff piece.
Four ladies have met every month over the last forty years for a book club. When Vivian (Jane Fonda) suggests they read Fifty Shades of Grey, it exposes the cracks each member has in their love lives. Diane (Diane Keaton) is still struggling with the passing of her husband and dealing with her over-protective daughters, who are urging her to move to Arizona so they can take care of her. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) can’t get her husband, Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), sexually interested in her anymore. And Sharon is a Federal Judge who can’t get over her divorce 18 years ago, especially after she finds out her ex is engaged to a younger woman. Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, and surprise appearance by Richard Dreyfuss are all love interests to the female cast members.
Not only are all the leads wasted working with this sub-par material, but I actually felt bad for Andy Garcia and Don Johnson, both of whom deserve a whole lot better than to be stuck as under-written love interests. It must have been an easy paycheck. The Book Club is like The Expendables. It’s got huge names in a genre they dominated for decades before a younger crop of stars took their title as A-list talent. Both films highlight the vibrancy of these performers even as they’ve passed their collective primes, but at least The Expendables didn’t outright embarrass its cast with sub-Sex & the City dialogue that is only surprising to those that haven’t been to a movie since these ladies were on top of the Box-Office heap.
Director: Bill Holderman
Stars: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen