Geared toward the twilight set, Book Club delivers a fair amount of laughs courtesy of its cast of American treasures. It’s a bit like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in the sense that its concerns are about the love lives of its elderly characters. All the spice comes from these women finding the right man to keep their libidos going, whether they are divorced, widowed, or single and lovin’ it. It’s nice to see a film that doesn’t look down upon older women for being sexually active. I think we can all recall some older films where such a thing would be seen as a taboo. Now we’re in 2018, and discussions of sex can be opened up to all consenting adults, not just the youngest and prettiest. Book Club still remains somewhat tasteful—no one takes their clothes off or anything. But there’s also a fun sense of raunchiness, with things like Viagra-induced boners and a hefty dose of double entendres that are in no way subtle. Not too dirty and not too prim, I could see why my packed audience was so into it. Having a cast like this also made the experience more entertaining.
For more serious cineastes like myself, though, this truly is the Fifty Shades of Grey of the film world: a fun little diversion that will leave you satisfied in the short term, but a product of small merit and quality that won’t go down as a classic. It’s hard to ignore how cheaply shot and lit this looks, and how undemanding the script actually is. Bring in a few cases of wine, Jane Fonda’s foxiest wardrobe, well-manicured nails tapping iPhone screens, and all the expected humour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a little summer cooler to toss down. It’s not a criticism per se—more of a wish for a final product truly worthy of a group of Oscar winners and nominees in their autumnal years. At least Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and company got to go to India for Marigold Hotel, you know?