Alternate Title: “Fifty Shades of Grey-Haired”
Remember the “Fifty Shades” craze? Remember all the coverage and jokes about middle-aged women going nuts for the Red Room? Yeah. That was back in 2011. Why did it take us this long to make a movie about it? Anyway, here’s my review of “Book Club”.
“Book Club” stars Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen as four lifelong friends, now in their 60s, each with her own struggles in her love life. Talk about a line-up of silver foxes. They read “Fifty Shades of Grey” as part of their monthly book club and suddenly they are inspired to turn up the romance and adjust their view on relationships. The mom-com is the directorial debut of Bill Holderman, who also wrote the screenplay alongside Erin Simms.
“Book Club” was as sugary sweet as one could expect. On this particular screening, I was treating my mother to a movie date and that’s about the best circumstance you could hope for when watching it. It’s the classic “growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional” story and oh aren’t middle-aged and beyond women sassy. Was I deeply moved? No. Did I have a good time? Oh yeah. Even had a few genuine laughs.
It’s a classically predictable little rom-com and all stereotypes are represented. We have the sex kitten who isn’t ready to settle down. We have the shy flower waiting to bloom before the right man (ew. I know). We have the bookish friend who enters her wild phase. As for Mary Steenburgen, isn’t she just playing all moms everywhere always?
I do not take anything away from this cast, however. This is a powerhouse coven and these ladies are doing a damn fine job. Always elegant. Always entertaining. Quite funny. Diane Keaton is doing most of the heavy lifting in this film, but Jane Fonda steals the show as only Jane Fonda can.
What is a rom-com without the hunks? The ladies are matched with a wonderful supporting cast. Andy Garcia is HAWT as Diane Keaton’s love interest. The chemistry was so great that I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that I was watching someone who walks like my grandmother make out. No tea, no shade to Diane Keaton, she just actually walks like my grandmother. Don Johnson also puts on a great show as Fonda’s old flame. The performance is sweet and playful and warmed my icy critic heart.
“Book Club” is a saltine cracker in the great cinema buffet but, eh, it’s fine. The only real weak point was with Keaton’s daughters. Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton play shrill, overbearing helicopter kids that are bound and determined to ruin Diane Keaton’s sex life. It’s a terrible arc that annoys more than it adds to the story and the performances are flat at best and grating at worst. No Bueno.
I don’t know that I’d necessarily rush out to see “Book Club” in theaters but if you haven’t seen your Mom in a while, take her to this one. Or save it for a rental.
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Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.