In his directorial debut, Bill Holderman (who wrote Robert Redford's A Walk in the Woods) has delivered a conservative package of feel-good twee and whimsy that straddles that awkward line between amusing and irksome. Unfortunately, Book Club tends toward the latter.
Its impressive cast is wasted on the lightweight script focusing on four ageing (but not yet aged) women who regularly get together for, yes, you guessed it, a book club.
Although, they really should have called it Wine Club as they are seldom without a glass of plonk in hand.
Typecast roles fill the group; the widowed mainstay, Diane (Diane Keaton), the divorced Federal Judge, Sharon (Candice Bergen), the sexually charged free spirit, Vivian (Jane Fonda) and the married but frustrated Carol (Mary Steenburgen).
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When Vivian brings Fifty Shades of Grey for the group to read, it re-awakens their sexuality. The film becomes a quasi-sex comedy for the elderly as the women attempt to reignite their love-lives. A cavalcade of suiters roll past the camera; the old flame (Don Johnson), a debonaire pilot (Andy Garcia) and the internet dating accountant (Richard Dreyfus). Even the married Carol gets in on the act as she slips her hubby (Craig T. Nelson) some Viagra.
It's all fairly silly stuff—a kind of puerile whimsicality accentuated by an ingratiatingly buoyant musical score. To be fair, it does settle down and delivers a couple of mildly amusing gags, but for the most part Book Club makes it almost impossible to suppress your cynicism.
It will appeal to those who want to switch off and be entertained by a film as light and fluffy as a pav. But if you're after more heft, you'd be better off curling up on the couch with a good book... and pouring yourself a wine.
Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen
Director: Bill Holderman
Running time: 104 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language & sexual references)
Verdict: Ageing stars are put out to pasture in this bland rom-com.