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Movie Review: Breezy Book Club could be worse

Book Club | Paramount Pictures Corporation
Book Club | Paramount Pictures Corporation

Book Club, the new comedy from Paramount, takes the term light comedy to a new level. It’s breezy, warm, smooth and simple. Beyond that? It’s as shallow and pedantic as an actual book club meeting with people you don’t know.

Most of the film, thankfully, isn’t really about the books they read. Four friends from their college years in California still meet once a month and take turns choosing the books they’re going to read. When one member chooses the famous “Fifty Shades of Grey”, their romantic lives each turn upside down.

This premise has great comedic potential, though most of what happens is rather innocuous and sweet. (If you’re hoping for some sex scene gone wrong, you’ll be exhausted with the innocent PG antics.)

Instead, most of the action are boring discussions and cutscenes with a never ending supply of white wine. Everything in the movie is white, actually. The cast, their clothes, their homes, the furniture, and even the milkshakes they order are all white. But what’s most noticeable is the exclusive choice of white wine.

The film’s best asset by far are the four comedy giants they have making the club. Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen are ludicrously talented and their chemistry is dazzling. Love interests Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson and Andy Garcia are bonafide scene-stealers.

Here however, the screenplay is so thin they aren’t really playing characters. Instead of truly acting as parts in a movie, it looks more like a polished recording of the same actors just hanging out in someone’s living room.

It doesn’t help the acts are largely uneventful. There’s an enormous amount of exposition that confuses the audience from the start. Another subplot shows a club member joining Bumble. While most seniors in my screening laughed politely at some scenes, this entire storyline garnered nothing more than a shrug.

Is this quartet’s story of candid sex and love as seniors liberating? Not really. But its earnest and warmth are admirable. It’s certainly a new perspective, and the cast is clearly having fun.

The humour is devilishly awkward most of the time. While reading “Fifty Shades”, for example, a character is watering her potted plant. They next show a close up shot the plant’s moisture gauge shooting from a 0 to 10.

It’s strange that the sex talk are the only confident and comfortable conversations in the script. It seems out of character these charming women are needlessly accident prone nearly everywhere they go - though their social gatherings hint at possible relief.

But relief never really comes. After finishing “Fifty Shades of Grey”, there’s only one thing more tiring the book club could bore us with: Reading the other two “Fifty Shades” books. And that’s exactly what they do. Like every action in the club’s romantic lives, the club’s antics are entirely predictable.

Of course their horizons “expand” by reading the whole stupid trilogy. Let’s hope Book Club doesn’t turn into one itself.

Book Club

2 out of 4 stars

PG, 1hr 44mins. Comedy Romance.

Written and Directed by Bill Holderman.

Starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen.

Now Playing at: Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.