Book Club

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Book Club Movie Poster Image
Fabulous stars drink, talk about sex in racy comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes strong female friendships and not allowing stereotypes to define how you age. Also positive messages about healthy marriages, sex and intimacy/commitment, and how adult children and their parents interact.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All four main characters are role models in different ways: Vivian is a successful entrepreneur, Carol is a celebrated chef and generous philanthropist, Diane is an attentive and loving mother, and Sharon is an admirable and respected judge. They're all encouraging and supportive friends to one another. No notable diversity within the cast.

Violence
Sex

Lots of discussions about sex (or lack thereof). Jokes about erections, unused vaginas, celibacy, one-night stands. Vivian shown putting on her shoes after casual sex. The friends quote from, have conversations about "hot" scenes in Fifty Shades of Grey. One character has sex in a car after a date. Another attempts to seduce her husband, puts Viagra in his beer. A husband suffers through a prolonged erection. Husband and wife rush off to have sex off camera. A new couple is shown in bed (clothed) and kissing in various places.

Language

One use of "f---ed up," plus occasional use of words including "s--t," "hell," "ass," "damn," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), sexual use of "come," nonsexual use of the term "lethargic pussy," etc.

Consumerism

Book trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey prominently featured, as are Eargasm, Mercedes cars, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Bumble, the book Wild, Honda, Buca di Beppo restaurant, Viagra, Volvo, Toyota Prius, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Smirnoff vodka.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine in nearly every scene: The women drink it (especially white wine) a lot. In one scene, the four of them finish three bottles of wine and one bottle of hard liquor. Other adults drink beer, wine, and cocktails at restaurants, bars, parties, etc. Diane takes some sort of anti-anxiety or sleeping meds to fly on a plane.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJan H May 19, 2018

Disgusting

Based on a disgusting book they all read for book club. Jane Fonda is awful, as per usual.
Parent Written bymik a. May 21, 2018

Geriatric Sex

If you want to hear 65 year old women talk about having sex and their vaginas, then this movie is for you. Otherwise skip it! and save yourself 2 hours of phon... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycooler September 18, 2018

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?

Movie details

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