This is the perfect movie for Mother’s Day and for the grandmother’s out there who, if they want to go to the theater with the family, often have only the choice between watching a Marvel movie or an action flick, or something for the even younger ones. These types of movies don’t generally interest grandmothers quite as much as a movie like this, but they’ll often go anyway. Hint. Hint.
I’m sure they saw the first Book Club and liked it. It was a box office success, grossing over $104 million worldwide with a mild budget of only $14 million! So, maybe you can return the favor for their never complaining about going to your movies and take your mom and or grandmother to watch Book Club: The Next Chapter.
The older female audience isn’t a small one. They need stories that they can relate to, to a degree. They have that here in this movie (and others like it), at least in some of the friendships that are built. And this is a cast full of women they’ve seen in shows for years. They know their work and will love to watch them again. The original 2018 movie proved that nicely.
This second odyssey brings the wonderful Diane Keaton (Diane), Jane Fonda (Vivian), Mary Steenburgen (Carol), and Candice Bergen (Sharon, no longer a federal judge) back for this second feature.
They’re still in their Book Club but having trouble with technology. They meet face-to-face via Zoom, which isn’t easy for everyone in the group, but they manage to improve. While they try and discuss their newest books, it’s challenging for some to stay connected, but luckily, they haven’t had trouble keeping up with one another.
The latest book they’re into is, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” a novel about listening to your heart, living life and not letting anything take you off your path… following your dreams. While discussing the latest section of the book, an idea erupts in Vivian’s head. This part of the storyline fits the book they’re reading and their lives as well because Vivian shows them that she has an engagement ring on her finger.
She’s marrying Arthur (Johnson).
Everyone’s excited about it but realizes their time together is getting short. They had problems but did enjoy their days with family during the pandemic. These friends need to get out of the house to see and be seen. Of course, by one another, but men are nice, too.
They decide that a once untouchable dream vacation should be taken. They always wanted to make it to Italy. Paulo Coelho says to follow your dreams. Hey, if they’re ever going to get to Italy, this would most likely be the last chance. Better take it.
Widowed Diane is living with Mitchell (Andy Garcia). He’s romantic and she’ll miss him, but she’s going. She’ll enjoy her time away. There’s plenty of wine and hanging out in Venice to do.
The movie has some laugh-out-loud moments, but one scene has Carol suddenly getting on stage, playing the accordion. This felt contrived. It caused me to shake my head, but as was said in the movie, “You can’t control the uncontrollables’.” I also found myself wanting to fix some of the dialogue because it seemed Bill Holderman tried too hard, missing what could have put a smile on everyone’s face throughout the movie by simply being more authentic.
One of the most ridiculous points is a police chief that happens to be okay with broken statutes as long as a former judge from America is involved. What?? The priest who was going to marry Arthur and Vivian just happens to be missing and it turns out Sharon can do the ceremony? I remind you, there are amusing moments, but this type of thing is so cliché. You’ll do a bit of eye-rolling but it’s not because of the actors. They did their jobs because they’re seasoned professionals and know how to bring it. But the script sometimes leaves them high and dry, not giving much to work with.
To Bill Holderman, I say, instead of counting on your audience to be there to watch only your cast, work more on the script and get things ironed out so your cast has more of a tale to present. Even Bruce, played by (Craig T. Nelson), is essential to the plot because what he stands for isn’t given much to nourish what’s going on. Since this is the case, you feel something is missing. Still, it’s a “cute” movie if cute was what he was going for, he achieved that.
It is worth watching… but make it a cable watch. You have to see the locations, they’re beautiful, but not so much that you should pay the full ticket price. However, I suggest you purchase popcorn at your local theater and watch “Book Club: The Next Chapter” while sitting comfortably on the couch with the family.
BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER
Director: Bill Holderman
Writers: Bill Holderman, Erin Simms
Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Giannini
Rating: PG-13 (Some Strong Language|Suggestive Material)
Runtime: 1h 47m
Producers: Erin Simms, Bill Holderman
Distributor: Focus Features