Written and directed by Bill Holderman, “Book Club” tells the story of four friends, widowed Diane (Diane Keaton), judge Sharon (Candice Bergen), hot to trot Vivian (Jane Fonda) and married Carol (Mary Steenburgen), whose monthly book club stumbles across the infamous “Fifty Shades” book franchise. Each of the women begins a romance awakening in regards to the books involving a myriad of new lovers like Mitchell (Andy Garcia), old lovers like Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) or long lost lovers like Arthur (Don Johnson).
The entire film feels like a commercial, whether it’s for wine, book clubs, the “Fifty Shades” franchise or aviation. It’s an uninspired, lazy attempt at a women’s comedy, with an endless barrage of sex jokes and age jokes written in the most pedantic way possible. Oh, the old woman fondled in the back of a car. Oh, the old man has an erection he can’t get rid of. Hardy, har har.
There’s a few laughs here and there, but an enormous sense of been-there, done-that with a variety of older actors looking for a paycheck. They’re engaging to be sure because we know them, but there’s not much more beyond that. The plot is a thin excuse for a film unable to carry a story for more than thirty minutes, much less feature-length.
Writer-director Nancy Meyers is able to craft entertaining if not groundbreaking romantic comedies whose plots are not intricate because the viewer can always feel a certain amount of heart in the story. “The Intern”, “Something’s Got to Give” and “It’s Complicated” are charming, light fair that someone put some thought and love into. “Book Club” has all the sentimentality of a Hallmark greeting card from cousins you don’t want to see at Christmas.