Movie review: Book Club

I have never read the infamous 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I'll try not to judge (too much) those who have. From all I've heard, it just seems too trashy—not fun-trashy just trashy-trashy—for my tastes and time. There are far too many other books on my to-read list and far too little time in which to tackle them for me to squander even seconds on trashy-trashy.

The four 60-something, forever friends of BOOK CLUB initially seem to agree with me on such. Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) have met monthly for decades to discuss books—reading selections made on a rotating basis—men, and more. 50 Shades of Grey is not the sort of selection the refined readers read. Initially.


Each of the four friends appear relatively content with their career choices yet not so much with their relationship status. Or lack of relationships, as the case is with most. Diane has no partner as her husband recently died, Vivian has no committed partner as she long ago chose random romps over romance with Arthur (Don Johnson). Sharon can't get over her former husband, Tom (Ed Begley Jr.) who divorced her decades ago. And Sharon, the only married gal in the group, laments what 35 years with her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) has done to their love life.

Then Vivian proposes 50 Shades of Grey for reading—and things get sorta screwy in varying shades for each one of the women going forward.

Seven things I liked about BOOK CLUB

The women's friendship. The actors all seem to genuinely enjoy spending time together. Whether it's just acting or not, it's admirable. And enviable. And the way women should befriend one another, actors or not.

Andy Garcia and me in 2013. (C'mon. How could I pass up sharing this warm-fuzzy moment again?)

Andy Garcia and me in 2013. (C'mon. How could I pass up sharing this warm-fuzzy moment again?)

Andy Garcia. As Diane-wooing Mitchell, Garcia is once again a mature woman's dreamboat, just as he was in the movie that led to me meeting—and hugging—him

Richard Dreyfuss. I've always liked the guy, even when I didn't like his character. Here as George, an online dating-service match for Sharon, I still like the guy... and his character... and seeing him onscreen again after too long of an absence.

The final dance performance. Enough said as I eschew spoilers.

Necessary truths. Diane's daughters Jill and Adrianne (Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton) treat their 72-year-old mother as if she has one foot in the grave and the other on scary, unstable ground. Which is, unfortunately, how many family (and society!) members view and treat older women, regardless of the vibrancy and life left to live in said women. Perhaps the lunacy of the daughters will elicit some letting go on the parts of guilty grown kids—and others.

Book club promotion. Anything that promotes reading gets a big plus in my book. Reading with friends, a super-sized plus.

The raucous laughter. Audience members screening the film with me found the film wildly laugh-out-loud funny. They loved it, and I loved that.

Two things I didn't like so much about BOOK CLUB

The official trailer. The trailer most folks have seen has much ado—and titters, twitters, and snickers—about the mature women reading the immature and trashy book. The film itself focuses more (realistically) on the women's relationships, with the book simply prompting them to evaluate past choices and future opportunities. I think that trailer does a disservice to the film... which is why the one I included above is the later,"final" version. 

Jane Fonda. I know, I know. She's a fabulous actor. Unfortunately, Ms. Fonda has always and forever reminded far too much of an unsavory pivotal person during my formative years. I can't watch her without seeing that other person... and that kinda turns my stomach. It's not Jane, it's me. Really.

Not turning my stomach, though, is Diane Keaton—who actually reminds me of a longtime friend of my own (hey, Mel!), which just makes me chuckle every time I watch her. Here Keaton talks about Andy Garcia and other good stuff related to BOOK CLUB:

BOOK CLUB (Rated PG-13 for sex-related material throughout, and for language) opens in theaters across the country Today, May 18, 2018. Find out more on the film's Facebook page.

Disclosure: I screened this movie free for review; opinions are my own.