Director Bill Holderman brings four legendary actresses back together in Book Club: The Next Chapter from Focus Features. In addition to directing the film, Holderman penned the screenplay with Erin Simms, who wrote the first film.
It’s been four years since we last saw the characters Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen). When we last left the ladies, Diane’s daughters had accepted her relationship with pilot Mitchell (Andy Garcia), Vivian decided to commit to her flame Arthur (Don Johnson), Sharon was hopeful about online dating, and Carol had reignited the passion in her marriage to Bruce (Craig T. Nelson).
After navigating through the challenges of the global pandemic and other personal matters, the group of female friends decide to let loose and have some fun. Excited by the news of Vivian’s engagement, they plan a girls’ trip to Italy, which they had always wanted to do. However, unexpected events reveal secrets, turning their tranquil vacation into an unforgettable journey across the country.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was nowhere in the primary demographic for a film like Book Club. However, the first film had tons of heart and excellent chemistry between the legends. Witnessing the fun between four iconic actresses as they portray a story centered on sex and the art of enjoying it to the fullest, you couldn’t help but smile.
The sequel may give off cash-grab vibes for some, but its intended audience will enjoy it. I will say that the film’s opening moments feature a voice-over from one of the characters asking what would make “a woman in her seventies get married”? I thought about the route the film was going to take. When the film was announced, and the plot was revealed, I thought the characters jumping the broom would surely be Diane and Mitchell. So I was pleasantly surprised when the trailers showed that it was Vivian and Arthur.
Book Club: The Next Chapter hits all of the necessary plot points; a sequel of this sort requires. Thankfully the film’s screenplay avoids culture clash jokes and lets the ladies enjoy their time on vacation without any overtly embarrassing situations just for the sake of the laugh. Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen all have moments to shine in the film, and we genuinely believe in their friendship.
Kudos to the script for handling the characterization of the ladies’ love interests. Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, and Don Johnson are having as much fun as the ladies. There were moments in the film that established that Arthur, Mitchell, and Bruce have a friendship, and I wouldn’t like some deleted scenes that show the trio hanging out and just interacting.
Book Club: The Next Chapter does have some clichés, but I was so busy watching these ladies enjoying their time together I’ll allow it. Expanding on the charm that made the first film a winner, Book Club: The Next Chapter is a harmless sequel.
Final Grade: B
Book Club: The Next Chapter hits theaters on May 11th.
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