‘Book Club’ Review: Legendary Ladies Bring Laughs & Life to Sweet, Simple Story

Adam Salandra
Movie Reviews Movies
Movie Reviews Movies
of 5
Review Essentials
  • Great cast chemistry
  • Relatable moments for all ages
  • Lots of laughs
  • Predictable at times

What Is Book Club?

Four lifelong friends (who just happen to be played by legendary actresses) read 50 Shades of Grey in their book club, and their lives are turned upside down by the tawdry tale. Diane (Diane Keaton) is being overly protected by her two daughters after the death of her husband, Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a successful federal judge who never bothered to date again after her decades-old divorce, Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is struggling to reignite the spark in her 35-year-old marriage, and Vivian (Jane Fonda) is only interested in sexual relationships with men with no strings attached. (The Samantha of the group, if you will. Or the Blanche, if that’s more in your older-promiscuous-women wheelhouse.)

It’s All About The Cast

Candace Bergen and Diane Keaton in 'Book Club'
Candace Bergen and Diane Keaton in 'Book Club'

First thing’s first: This movie is worth watching based on the actresses alone. The four leading ladies have each made a unique imprint on the world of film and television over the past 60 years and that is a big deal. So to see them all head a movie at this later stage in their lives is both exciting and relevant. But it is their chemistry when they join forces that makes the movie work so well.

The film is certainly not reinventing the wheel by any means. It’s a standard ensemble romantic comedy that isn’t full of twists and turns. But the fun comes in watching these women still command the screen after all these years.

Which character you’ll relate to most depends on where you’re currently at in your own love life. In a long-term relationship but missing those early years when you couldn’t keep your hands off your partner? You’ll be connecting with Ms. Steenburgen’s storyline. Scared to start fresh after a breakup? You’ll be all about Diane. Have a fear of commitment but no fear of one-night stands? Jane Fonda for the win. (It needs to be noted, though, that Fonda is 80 years old and she’s playing a character in her late 60s, but she looks like she’s in her mid-50s. Respect.)

But it’s Candice Bergen who is the real scene stealer of the film. As a no-nonsense judge, she’s not been intimate with a man since she divorced her husband 18 years ago. And her attempts at breaking back into the dating world via apps like Tinder provide some of the funniest scenes of the whole movie.

Will a Younger Crowd Like It?

Jane Fonda in 'Book Club'
Jane Fonda in 'Book Club'

The audience at the press screening was made up almost entirely of women in the same age range as the characters and it is no exaggeration to say they were losing their minds in delight. These ladies were howling and screaming at the screen from the start. They were watching actresses they’ve known for decades, in situations that they could easily relate to, and they couldn’t get enough. But the film should be able to affect us all.

First of all, if you’re a millennial who can’t appreciate seeing Diane Keaton on your screen, that is a shame. But there’s still something here for you, too. At a certain point, we all start to realize that we’re not kids anymore and suddenly our impending senior years actually start to feel a little more real. So it’s a little relieving to see women of a certain age be able to live full, rich sex lives.

But there’s also a lot of wish fulfillment in the film too. When Keaton starts hooking up with a rich pilot (Andy Garcia), the couple starts canoodling poolside at his Arizona ranch and flying planes over a beautiful desert sunset. It’s fun to fall into this fantasy world and imagine being swept off your feet, even when you’re pushing 70.

So Is Book Club Good?

Listen, it’s no secret that this movie will not be for everyone. But older women and the gay men who appreciate them have been buzzing about the project for months, and that demographic will not be disappointed. The movie is able to remind fans why these actresses had such fruitful careers while managing to crack viewers up in the process.

By the end of the screening, the entire audience was screaming in delight. That’s because these four women were now our friends and we couldn’t help but be excited for them. Even the parts that were predictable still had us smiling and we left the theater feeling really good. And if that’s not worth the price of admission, we don’t know what is.

Adam Salandra
Adam Salandra is an Entertainment Editor for FANDOM. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog pup or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.
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