REVIEW: ‘Book Club’ powered by talented cast

Academy Award winners Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen, along with Golden Globe winner Candice Bergen unite in this feature about four women who read “50 Shades of Grey” at their Book Club.

That’s the premise of the aptly named “Book Club,” with four professional, older women named Diane (Keaton), Vivian (Fonda), Carol (Steenburgen) and Sharon (Bergen) all taking a break from their usual novels to see what all the fuss is about with the best seller. As one might guess, comedic hijinks ensue as Diane, Vivian and Sharon are inspired by the book to get back into the dating game while Carol attempts to reconnect with her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson).

As the film develops, Diane starts a relationship with a pilot named Mitchell (Andy Garcia), Sharon begins using a dating app and Vivian has the first meaningful relationship she’s had in years with Arthur (Don Johnson).

“Book Club” starts pretty strong. While the “50 Shades of Grey” series has been met with poor feedback over the years, seeing these characters all react to the book and subsequently be inspired to get into steamy relationships was quite funny.

The best parts of the film mainly come from the first two acts, as the four characters navigate their love lives through some very humorous situations. There are some great jokes and gags made with some being topical and others being timeless. For the most part it works well.

“Book Club” does run into a problem that becomes most apparent in its third act, though. The fact is that the film is quite generic in some of its storytelling. For example, the four main characters are all stereotypical, with Vivian being the one who has had many relationships but none of them are meaningful and Sharon being the stick-in-the-mud of the group, as she doesn’t want to get involved with reading the book at first.

The issues start coming up in the third act because some drama is thrown in that is quickly resolved and dealt with. It’s something that many romantic comedies do and the drama is usually based on a simple misunderstanding, and this film is no different. “Book Club” especially suffers from this, because all of the characters seem intelligent enough to work through these problems fairly easily.

While the story and even the character-types do come off as generic, though, the performances carry things through, especially when it comes to the comedy. All four of the leading women, as well as their co-stars Garcia, Nelson, Johnson and Richard Dreyfuss, all make this flick work pretty well.

The chemistry is there throughout the film, too, both between the group of friends and the romantic interests, which really helps the film’s case. Plus, the comedic line delivery from these experienced performers is spot on.

“Book Club” is a solid afternoon matinee watch. It provides some laughs thanks to its talented cast and has some heart thrown in as well. 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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