A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Book Club is a comedy about four best friends (Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen) whose lives change after they agree to read Fifty Shades of Grey together. E.L. James' trilogy plays a prominent role in the movie; it's quoted and discussed several times and acts as a catalyst for each of the women to re-examine the state of her own love life. Not surprisingly, there are many obvious references to sex, several scenes of flirting and kissing, jokes about erections, and a couple of shots of couples who are either about to have sex or have just had it. Expect occasional strong language (including one use of "f---ed up") and lots of drinking (especially of white wine). Teens may not be especially interested, but the movie does have strong messages about female friendships and healthy relationships.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
BOOK CLUB follows four 60-something Southern California best friends who've been meeting and discussing books since they were in their 20s. Single hotelier Vivian (Jane Fonda) never demands more than casual sex from men. Federal judge Sharon (Candice Bergen) has been celibate for the 18 years since she divorced her husband. Recently widowed stay-at-home mom Diane (Diane Keaton) is at odds with her two adult daughters, who want her to move near them in Arizona. And chef Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is happily married to newly retired Bruce (Craig T. Nelson); they love each other but haven't been intimate in six months. When it's Vivian's turn to pick the next book, she gives everyone Fifty Shades of Grey. At first the women balk at reading erotica, but as they read E.L. James' trilogy, they each rediscover their "inner goddesses," whether it's through online dating (for Sharon), flirting with a handsome pilot (Andy Garcia) for Diane, or rekindling an old flame (Don Johnson) for Vivian.
Is it any good?
No matter how you feel about the Fifty Shades of Grey books, it's a treat to watch this quartet of excellent actresses on screen together, although the comedy is only somewhat entertaining. Although it would be wonderful for the 65-and-over actresses to perform in a film that didn't involve Fifty Shades as a central plot point, it's undeniably amusing to see them banter in this Nancy Meyers-like comedy. (Gorgeous homes? Check! Keaton's trademark costume style? Check! Sexagenarian romance? Check! All-white cast? Check ...) It's also refreshing for a movie to offer the possibility that older women can be with younger men (Johnson is 12 years younger than Fonda, and Garcia is 10 years younger than Keaton) and to cast acclaimed actors like Wallace Shawn, Ed Begley Jr., and Richard Dreyfuss in supporting roles.
The characters' various love stories are unevenly played out, with Keaton's and Fonda's the most traditionally romantic, Bergen's played for laughs (she finds her suitors through online dating), and Steenburgen's somewhat bittersweet except for a predictable sequence involving Viagra and its long-lasting effects. But it's not the romances that make this film watchable, it's the supportive relationships between the women. The dialogue is authentic -- as is the high amount of alcohol consumption associated with women's book clubs (it's unclear how the characters were functional at their jobs after drinking so much wine). Two of the best parts of the movie are the breathtaking California and Arizona locations and the nostalgic soundtrack, which ranges from Paul Simon and Meat Loaf to Tom Petty and Roxy Music.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about who the target audience for Book Club is. How can you tell? Why do you think there are relatively few films featuring older women?
Which characters do you consider role models in the movie? Why?
What role does drinking play in the characters' lives? Do you think they drink responsibly?
Why do you think the Fifty Shades books are so popular, even among those who haven't read the trilogy? Why do you think they've made such an impact on popular culture?
- In theaters: May 18, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2018
- Cast: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen
- Director: Bill Holderman
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sex-related material throughout, and for language
- Last updated: December 13, 2019
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