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Friday, June 1, 2018

"Book Club" 2018 Like Eating Plastic Fruit

I am the demographic for whom "Book Club" was made and I hated this movie. There's a fine line between "This is so fake swallowing it would be like swallowing plastic fruit" and "This is fake, but its artistry seduced me and I have been swept up in an alternate world thanks to my willing suspension of disbelief." "Book Club" is "eating plastic fruit" level fake.

"Book Club" stars four actresses who've been around for a while. Diane Keaton and Candice Bergen are both 72, Jane Fonda is 80, and Mary Steenburgen is 65. Steenburgen and Bergen both look like mature women you might meet in real life. Rich enough to be well taken care of, but not unreal.

Diane Keaton is clinging to her la dee da Annie Hall flibbertigibbet routine. I found it grating. If you've made it to 72 and you don't know how to handle life's little challenges, like making small talk with stranger on an airplane, then why should I care about you? A young woman's confusion can be endearing. An old woman's confusion suggests that she should wear one of those "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" alarm systems.

Jane Fonda has clearly signed a pact with the devil. Either that or her various beauty regimens, which have ranged, over the years, from bulimia to punishing feel-the-burn calisthenics, really do keep you young. Her eyes are huge, blue, and clear, her face is smooth, her body, clad in skin-tight clothing, is shapely. Fonda is also one heck of an actress. She brings her whole game to this silly little movie.

Everything about this movie is fake, starting from the main premise. All four of these ladies are rich, happy, successful, live in perfect homes, wear perfect clothes, and have been friends for their entire lives. They meet in person regularly and are sweetly supportive of each other. If you can find four such women, and such a friendship, in real life, I'll take back this review.

Friendships with other women are precious and rare. They don't last like this. When you've had a bad day, you don't get to phone three people you've known all your life and have them drop everything they are doing and come to your house to hold your hand and buck you up. The friendship in this movie is as unbelievable as the sex.

But then there's the unbelievable sex. Time does do things to women's bodies that make it more difficult to do the kind of things the characters in this film are shown doing. A movie that really loved women would address that.

And then there's the romance. The four stars read "Fifty Shades of Grey," a trashy hit, and decide that they are going to go out and get some love. They do, with Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfus and Craig T. Nelson.

The most unbelievable pairing is 62-year-old Andy Garcia and 72-year-old Diane Keaton. Garcia plays a pilot and self-made millionaire who owns a home looking out on the magnificent rock formations of Sedona, Arizona. For no discernable reason, he falls in love with Diane Keaton, who plays a woman so flakey she can't make conversation without a pratfall. If you believe their love story, I have a bridge I can sell you.

Old age has its gifts that youth cannot provide. Why not make a movie that capitalizes on that? Women who realize that they have nothing to lose and are suddenly freed up to be outspoken, not to hide their intelligence, as Keaton insists on doing, and who are no longer bedroom athletes but can offer wit and depth? I'd go see that movie. Heck, I was desperate enough to go see this one.

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