Book Club movie review: Reading between the sheets

Book Club
You’ll want to join this Book Club.

Book Club is this week’s counterprogramming offering against the summer superhero tentpoles, but it’s actually good for everybody. It’s got positive messages for both men and women, senior and junior.

Book Club
Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen in Book Club

Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), Carol (Mary Steenburgen) and Diane (Diane Keaton) have kept their book club going for decades. Each at various stages in their romantic lives, the books they read inform their love lives.

Book Club
Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton in Book Club

Getting these four actors together is comic gold, and the script by Erin Simms and director Bill Holderman gives them sophisticated material. If you’re wondering how highbrow it is, there are Werner Herzog jokes.

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The ladies of Book Club have good taste.

The jokes in Book Club require you to pay attention to the rhythms of the dialogue an recurring phrases. You can’t be totally passive. There’s a bit of vaudevillian set-up punchline too.

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The jokes fly fast in Book Club.

Holderman also succeeds in making reading cinematic. Either because they read a provocative book in not quite private locations, or simply each character’s reaction to certain passages, the viewer is let in on the otherwise private experience of reading.

Book Club
Nothing is off limits in Book Club.

It’s also rather clever how they figured out how to discuss the Fifty Shades books in a PG-13 movie. They cleverly dodge the explicit words so we still know which scenes they’re talking about.

Book Club
Carol (Mary Steenburgen) and her husband (Craig T. Nelson) try to keep things fresh.

Book Club’s individual stories tackle dating again (Diane, Sharon and Vivian) or a married love life (Carol), as well as overprotective kids and former lovers returning to one’s life.

Book Club
Don Johnson was the one that got away.

Each of the book clubbers represent a different aspect of life that someone could relate to: a married couple, a widow, a divorcee and a lifelong loner.

Book Club
I don’t see any books on that table.

The movie does lose track of the books. The books should inform their individual stories as they read. It would have also been nice if they’d picked a greater variety of books. They just read the entire Fifty Shades trilogy.

Book Club
Book Club has extracurricular activities too.

Their theme is books that have been adapted into films, which is a smart call to ensure that more of the audience may know the story than limiting it only to avid readers. I believe the first book they read was Wild but I could be wrong.

Book Club
Carol (Candice Bergen) meets George (Richard Dreyfuss) through Bumble.

I’ve also got to question their choice to use Bumble as the dating site Sharon goes on. It’s funny, for sure, but when Sharon starts receiving messages any Bumble user can call B.S.

On Bumble, women have to send the first message. It’s Bumble’s thing. Sharon could have joined any other dating service that allows men to message first, yet they chose the one that does not.

Book Club
Mitchell (Andy Garcia) courts Diane (Diane Keaton)

Listen, if doctors can watch House and lose themselves in the entertainment of it, certainly Bumble daters can still have fun with Book Club. Hopefully, they’ll make a sequel because I’d love to know what these ladies think of Ready Player One.

Book Club is in theaters this weekend.

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