Book Club Review

A common complaint about Hollywood is that there are not enough good roles for older women. It is a well-founded complaint. While there are roles for older woman, they tend to be supporting roles who get less than 10 minutes screen time. While I’m sure the pay cheque is nice, they can’t be the most satisfying roles as the characters are very rarely more than the odd inspiring or funny line. So yes, we need more movies that put older woman in focus and give the elder stateswoman of Hollywood something to have fun with with. Book Club aims to be that film.

Diane (Diane Keaton, Annie Hall), Vivian (Jane Fonda, Klute), Sharon (Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen, Last Vegas) have all been part of the same book club for decades. However after reading Fifty Shades of Grey, they all realise that they are dissatisfied in their current relationship statuses.

This is a movie about sex. Yes the movie might dress it up at times about having loving relationships when you are classed as elderly but no, the movie is about sex. And you better be ready for a lot of discussions about sex because 90% of the movie is exactly that. Seriously, this movie is obsessed with it. Every other scene is either about good sex is, about whether old people should have it, how to get it and whether you should actually love someone while having sex with them. It’s a whole load of sex. There is more talk about sex in this film than there was in American Pie. Watching these four old ladies is more akin to watching four hyper rabbits. It’s seriously irritating because you just get sick of hearing about. By the end of the movie I would take long discussions on the correct placement of potpourri in the living room because I’m so sick of hearing about sex. And you are going to be sick of hearing about sex by the end of this review because the movie is so centred around it that I have to talk about it if I want to talk about the movie.

It is the most fundamental problem with the movie. For characters to be interesting, they need to be varied. They need to have many personality traits and interests which mark them out as real people and not just constructs to make sure a script goes the way the writer wants. This movie does not provide that because of it’s obsession with sex. All the character definition they get is how much do they want sex. Do they want it a lot, do they want a bit or do they not want it at all? That’s the main question this film has for the characters and all they are defined by. I really can’t emphasise enough how much this movie is obsessed with sex. You’d think this had been written and directed by some teenagers but no, I checked. The people who made this film were adults who I would have thought would have got that people talk about things other than sex.

And god, why does this movie hold Fifty Shades of Grey up in such esteem? The way this movie talks about it and quotes it, you’d think it was the Bible. It is the book which inspires them all to do something about their lives because apparently watching a rich billionaire manipulate a young girl really makes you think that your love life is inadequate. I anticipated that there might be copycats of Fifty Shades of Grey but luckily for me as a film reviewer, it seems like they have been kept in the literary field and that I won’t have to deal with more tame adaptations of Mills and Boon rip-offs. But the thing I didn’t see coming was that other movies would use the book as a key focal point of their plots and make them out to be complete life changers. It’s a minor point yes, but one that drove me up the wall and made me hate this movie even more.

The movie’s humour is just stupid as well. It’s just insulting to anyone who has two brain cells put together. One of the big running jokes is that Diane’s daughters not only think she is old but is so old that she’s going to fall over and break all the bones in her body by living on her own. It’s firstly not a very funny joke because the only reaction you get from it is an exasperated gasp from Diane. And also for reasons best known to the director Bill Holderman (First Feature Film), Diane’s daughters, one of which is played by Alicia Silverstone (Clueless) who must known better, constanty have their mouths open and treat Diane like a toddler. These characters are so irritating and you want them and the entire movie with it to be turned off.

This is where I try to say something nice but I can’t because even the fight it is light and bright makes me angrier. Because this movie makes me feel scared. Earlier in the year I reviewed Home Again which was also terrible, though a bit worse than this movie. But while that tackled a different subject to this, both that and this signify a bad trend. They both are Los Angeles set movies where people in nice houses have nice problems and everything is wrapped up by the end in a nice bow with very little drama taking place. These sort of movies have always existed but for the longest time they were stuck as TV movies on Hallmark and Lifetime. Now though it seems like they are getting back into our cinemas which is horrific. These movies are terrible in a completely different way to things like Transformers and Entourage, but they are still indeed terrible.

Book Club is a movie with such a one-track mind for sex that you will get so bored of the subject that you will become a nun by the credits. I am not bothered by old ladies talking about sex but I am bothered if that is all they go on about in a two hour movie. The characters are all defined by how much sex they get compared to how much they want while all the humour is below the level of a two-year-old. This is the sort of plain, bland movie that should stay out of our cinemas. I suppose though there was the chance that even Hallmark said no to this crap.

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A Guy Who Talks About Movies

Former Head of Movies for Screen Critics. Film Reviews now hosted on Medium.