Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Candice Bergen
Directed by Bill Holderman
Reviewed by Michael Dalton
Now that Hollywood has cooked the minds of the 16 – 25 year-old set with the endless stream of nonsensical flicks made up of killer dolls, superheroes, erotic vampires, and evil robots, they’ve now set the barbecue alight for the 50+ set of presumably sex-starved, orgasm-obsessed women. In the fluffily contrived Book Club, four women, Diane, Vivian, Sharon, and Carol, meet every month to discuss a book, drink wine, eat, and talk about their nether regions and how unsatisfied they are. After an appallingly phony photoshop montage, the action gets going with Vivian (Jane Fonda) bustling into the meeting and recommending with great passion, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey. This “novel”, a soft porn excursion that promoted the use of whips and nipple clamps and private jets, liberated its readers into speaking up to their lovers about what they really want. In one irony to beat them all, after spawning a movie trilogy of unspeakable awfulness, James’s tomes have now spawned a “ladies film”. Art is imitating art here for this mutation of the franchise, that dumbed down readers and audiences alike, has bounced from a pitch meeting to a monstrosity that features a bunch of Oscar winners (and nominees) who All know better, a blind cinematographer, and a director making the most unforgivable debut of the decade.
These ladies want to get laid and the proposal is that the book will achieve their aim. They then all stray off into little vignettes that wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of The Love Boat (the writing here is marginally worse). It begins with a little history the four ladies have shared and how they’ve all succeeded. Vivian’s a fiercely independent, spike-heeled hotelier, Sharon’s a judge who’s never recovered from her divorce , Carol’s a chef with a disinterested husband who gifted her with Eargasm Earplugs (!!!), and Diane’s the stay at home mother. Diane (played by Diane Keaton as if Annie Hall had morphed into a clumsy genital groper) has two daughters who are clearly blind to the fact that their mother walks and drives without assistance and isn’t foaming at the mouth, such is their over-protective attitude. “You drove all the way here by yourself?!?!?” the little charmers squawk. Sharon (Candice Bergen) takes her cat to the vet where the veterinarian comments, “We have a lethargic pussy on our hands…” while Carol (Mary Steenburgen) slips Viagra into her husband’s drink, the result of which earns the envy of a traffic cop. How I wish I was making this up.
The men, played by Don Johnson, Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss (this poor guy is virtually raped after one date with the judge and stumbles off the screen dazed and confused), and poor Craig T. Nelson who seems unaware of where he is and why, are assembled to give the women a purpose. You’ll laugh but not for the intended reasons. Get a load off a grinning Steenburgen citing the Fifty Shades mannequin Christian Grey as a role model. Recoil as Bergen attempts an online hookup. Marvel at the tightness of Fonda’s butt. You too will walk out dazed and confused. Welcome to the barbecue.