Available now on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital
Much of the buzz for Book Club was around its all-star cast; Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen are each screen icons in their own right. Audiences their age are often underserved, and made to watch icons like Keaton and company play supporting roles, if any. This film changes that.
All four Book Club leads tend to play a “type.” Diane Keaton plays clever, menswear-clad women who are anxious about their next step in life. From 9 to 5 to Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda is usually an independent businesswoman with penchant for sarcasm. Candice Bergen’s characters wield power, like with her iconic role in Murphy Brown. Mary Steenburgen plays fun wives who want to spice things up, even going as far as to play the role of herself (alongside real-life husband Ted Danson) on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Book Club is aware these actresses are typecast, and the film begins with each lead playing that up. Diane (Keaton) is a widow unsure of her future, the no-nonsense Vivian (Fonda) owns a hotel, Sharon is a stoic federal judge (Bergen) and Carol (Steenburgen) wants to reignite the flame with her husband. Throughout the journey of the film, each goes under a metamorphosis. As a result, the movie subverts viewers’ expectations in the best of ways.
This happens when the four ladies start reading the Fifty Shades trilogy. As the pages turn, their sex lives heat up. Diane falls for a hot pilot, Vivian reconnects with “the one that got away,” Sharon joins Bumble and hooks up in a car, and Carol spikes her husband’s drink with Viagra.
Diane has the meatiest scenes, as she not only has a new lover, but two overbearing daughters. The usually effervescent Alicia Silverstone plays the very worried Jill, who insists Diane give up her life with friends in California… to move into a basement in Arizona. Jill and her sister make cringeworthy, ageist comments until Keaton delivers an epic, highlight-reel-worthy monologue that puts the problematic pair in their place.
Part of the genius of Book Club is that it is accessible across generations. My baby boomer parents were instantly on board with the film, having lived through these ladies’ storied careers. Being a millennial, it was my chance to see talents like this tackle something as “now” as Fifty Shades of Grey. It was especially exciting to see Keaton again, since she has kept a lower profile in the 2010s. I loved watching my family’s copy of First Wives Club growing up. Being part of the Netflix generation, I mostly know Fonda from Grace and Frankie, and her hilarious work on that show was a large part of the appeal of seeing Book Club. She didn’t disappoint.
Aesthetically, the film is a series of glamour shots of its beautiful cast and sprawling Los Angeles scenery. The Blu-ray features a gorgeous 1080p visual that was free from any distortion or artifacts, and the lossless audio track sounded great on our surround sound system.
As notorious as Hollywood is for ageism, it is a breath of fresh air when major studios get things right. Book Club gives Keaton, Fonda, Bergen, and Steenburgen a mainstream platform to tackle issues unique to their age group. That’s a beautiful thing, and something I’d love to see more of — specifically in a sequel to this hilarious, inclusive rom-com.
The Book Club combo pack comes packaged in a protective o-sleeve that slips off to reveal a standard Blu-ray case. Inside is a redeemable digital copy slip, a DVD disc, and the Blu-ray disc.
“It All Started With A Book” — 10 minute video
The film’s co-writer Erin Simms reveals she was inspired to write the film after co-writer and director Bill Holderman sent his mother the Fifty Shades trilogy. Simms was inspired to do the same. Their mothers ended up inspiring the four lead characters. This special feature is an educational summary of the film’s development process, compared to average movie EPKs that are basically fluff pieces.
“Casting Book Club” — 13 minute video
Simms and Holderman reveal that the film was written for Diane Keaton, and Keaton says she recognized it was written in her “voice.” The cast and crew explain how similar the characters are to the actresses themselves.
“Location, Location, Location” — 9 minute video
The filmmakers explain why they chose Los Angeles as the setting; it’s always sunny, and full of life year round. The actors got to shoot close to home and appreciated that perk. The Ivy let the film shoot outside due to Jane Fonda giving the restaurant’s manager one look.
“A New Chapter” — 9 minute video
Keaton, Fonda, Bergen and Steenburgen reflect on the unique opportunity to celebrate women “of a certain age” on screen. They talk about how the characters are not in competition, and lift each other up while promoting sex positivity. Fonda describes Book Club as giving a “cultural face” to older women.
“Living in the Moment” — 3 minute video
American Idol finalist, Broadway star and gay icon Katharine McPhee takes us through the recording process of her Book Club theme song “Living in the Moment” with her fiancée, legendary producer David Foster.
13 Deleted and Alternate Scenes — 11 minute video
These are mostly snippets you can understand being cut for time. The highlight is a funny TSA scene used in the trailer, but cut from the movie itself.
Book Club is Highly Recommended
My favorite Diane Keaton movie is First Wives Club. What’s yours? Tweet me! @DerekPlease