Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.
As I consider the book club I am about to join for the summer, I am certain we will not be reading 50 Shades of Grey, unlike the main characters from the newly released film Book Club. The youngest of this crew are Mary Steenburgen (Carol) and Don Johnson (Arthur), both in their upper 60s; everyone else is well into their 70s, and Jane Fonda (Vivian) is, of course, 80 years old. I cite these numbers because their ages are at the forefront of this narrative. It is all about how—not just aging people, but some who are elderly in fact—can still have meaningful and fulfilling relationships with the opposite sex.The four women in the club begin to read the provocative E. L. James books starring Christian Grey that highlight racy, sexual escapades, and they become inspired to take some risks and “get out there” themselves. Keaton, playing a widow by the same name, Diane, embodies her typical quirky persona, known and loved by many. But where this used to be endearing, it is somehow not translating as well into her golden years. Instead, I found myself wishing she would lose some of the idiosyncrasies with her hands and facial expressions in favor of a more mellow her. Nevertheless, in the company of her overbearing daughters and of the handsome and debonair Mitchell (Garcia) she comes off as innocent and enchanting, even though she apologizes a bit too much, and her monologue at dinner with Mitchell is somewhat awkward and a bit painful to watch. Likewise, one cannot help but admire Fonda—she still has sex appeal and pulls off some strong emotional moments with a few truly funny lines. Her connection with Arthur is an interesting twist on gender roles, where she is the emotionally shut-down powerhouse, and he is the vulnerable one. Steenburgen can also still be “cute” and “peppy” as she struggles to reignite passion in her marriage, but it is Candice Bergen (Sharon) who really shines here. It seems she has all the best lines; she is believable and disarming as a long-time, divorced federal judge who lives alone with her cat and cannot imagine going on a date. When she finally encounters George (Dreyfuss), I found myself laughing out loud at her one-liners and escapades. It is worth noting that this movie crosses some boundaries with a good degree of alcohol consumption appearing in many scenes and some very crass sexual humor, escapades, and language to include swearing. This film, though lacking any real depth and definitely not showcasing the best of what any of these actors have to offer, may find a place in the hearts of a more mature audience who can relate to some of the struggles the film addresses in a sometimes clever and humorous manner. Due to the sex-focused behavior and language, as well as swearing and alcohol consumption, we are unable to award this movie the Dove-Approved Seal.