Lifestyle & Culture

‘Book Club’: Time for a Laugh . . . and Some Wine

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen talk about just about everything in the movie “Book Club.” / Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

IF THE NAMES Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha mean anything to you, you’ll be happy to learn that you will get to hang out with them again when you go to see the movie “Book Club.”

The four women in “Book Club” are named . . . well, I don’t really recall their names. Let’s just call them Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen. They could be the “Sex and the City” quartet 30 years later.

And married, widowed, divorced or never-succumbed, they’re still talking about boys and sex. Mostly sex, since the book club is reading (to appropriate amounts of groaning) “Fifty  Shades of Grey.”

The movie is a piece of fluff with moments of insight and laughing out loud. It’s like sitting around with your smartest friends joking and confessing and then joking again. But then in many cases book clubs are the modern equivalent of the old quilting bees, without the bedspread at the end.

There’s some serious content: Keaton’s daughters keep insisting that she shouldn’t live alone “at your age”; and the ever-brittle Fonda, a Samantha-like libertine, keeps her steely resolve not to  melt in the face of real intimacy.

And, especially, there’s the dry humor of a fairly chunky Candice Bergen, who at one point grabs a container of ice cream from Fonda, growling, “Give that to a professional.” (She’s also the glum one who says—I’m paraphrasing—If God meant for us to have sex at our age, why would He do this to our bodies? And the one who explains to a–type date (Richard Dreyfuss) that she is a federal judge and, laughing, says she has the power to put him in handcuffs. Whoops! Didn’t mean it that way! Fifty shades of embarrassment.)

Paramount Pictures is nobody’s fool: The official website for the movie was offering  private screenings (presumably to real book clubs) and features a “Book Club” quiz. They know that women, especially women “of a certain age,” will come flocking to this flick, and not just because of the gallons of wine the women drink (hey, just like my book club!).
Steenburgen is the baby of the quartet at 50. Bergen and Keaton are both 72, and Fonda is a majestic 80! (Yes, we know she’s had work done—but it worked.)

But while they will be leading the way, the Sex and the City Book Club gals aren’t alone out there this season. We have Meryl Streep (68), Christine Baranski (66) and the facially immobile Cher (72) teeing up for a July release. Yes, it means we will have to sit through “Mamma Mia!” again, but Bette Davis warned us that old age isn’t for sissies. (The new movie, 10 years after the original, is called “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” And so they do.)

But wait! Back up a second! There’s more! Early June brings “Ocean’s 8,” another iteration of the 1960 “Ocean’s 11” (and “Twelve” in 2004 and “Thirteen” in 2007), proving that girls can pull off a heist—with fewer players than the guys? The oldest “Ocean”-goer is only 53 (Sandra Bullock), then comes Helena Bonham Carter (51) and Cate Blanchett (49). Younger, yes, nonetheless way past the “sell by” date for Hollywood when it comes to women.

Or is it? Have Boomer women captured the culture for a change? We’re getting older and are, in our entitled-age-cohort way, demanding that everyone pay attention to us. Even Candice Bergen’s “Murphy Brown” is getting a reboot on TV this fall, right?

I’m sure “Deadpool 2” and “Han Solo” won’t be neglected, but I suspect I know where a lot of women will be spending some time this season. (I may save one evening for “Show Dogs”; it looks truly stupid, but the hounds are cute.)

—Nancy McKeon

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