BOOK CLUB — Review by Martha K. Baker

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Fears that Book Club would make mock of women over 65 fade to boredom. Book Club is not so embarrassing in making eldresses look like banshees without brains as it is banal. Wine will be swilled and truths will be flayed as viewers check their watches like a conductor at a royal wedding. Continue reading…

Four women have been friends forever. Diane (Diane Keaton) is a recent widow with helicopter daughters. Vivian (Jane Fonda) runs her own ritzy hotel. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge, and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) wants to ignite her marriage to a recent retiree. The quartet has been meeting to drink wine and discuss books since they started with Fear of Flying and its homage to “zipless” sex. Now they are ready for a jolt, which comes in the form of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Book Club plods behind the four as they emerge from their quotidian lives into the last third of life. The women do not want “to go gentle into the good night,” but if they keep drinking wine like that, they will go the way of Dylan Thomas himself.

Carol’s husband (Craig T. Nelson) extends a metaphor about his motorcycle using feminine pronouns — not funny. Sharon has to endure her ex-husband’s engagement to a flibbertigibbet; the former is played by Ed Begley Jr., the latter by St. Louisan Mircea Monroe of “Episodes.” Vivian must consider the advances of an old flame (Don Johnson), and Diane has to divorce her daughters to accept loving from Andy Garcia.

The cast of long-lived actors should have produced better acting. However, the quartet of leading ladies between the ages of 65 and 80 works on the surface, barely plumbing into the sincerity of real women these ages. The fault could lie at the feet of first-time director, Bill Holderman, who wrote the script with Erin Simms. They couldn’t resist the viagra joke.

For a better look at a book club, try British tv’s The Book Group from 2002. It’s funnier and meatier.

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Martha K. Baker

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.