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Bill Holderman
Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen
Writing Credits:
Bill Holderman, Erin Simms

Four longtime friends have their lives forever changed after reading "50 Shades of Grey" in their monthly book club.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$13,582,231 on 2781 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/28/2018

• “It All Started With a Book” Featurette
• “Casting Book Club” Featurette
• “Location, Location, Location” Featurette
• “A New Chapter” Featurette
• “Living in the Moment” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• DVD Copy


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Book Club [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 19, 2018)

A quiet movie about relationships among older folks, 2018’s Book Club seemed like an odd tale to release in May, smack-dab among “summer blockbuster” season. However, the film held its own and delivered $68 million in the US, a more than competent gross for a small character flick.

So I guess “counterprogramming” can work! We meet four longtime friends, all now in their AARP years: Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen). All four meet monthly as part of a book club they started way back in 1974.

Usually they read low-key novels, but saucy, wealthy Vivian shakes things up and chooses the tawdry 50 Shades of Grey. This leads them to reassess aspects of their lives, romantic and otherwise.

Number of Oscar nominations generated by the cast of Club across their careers: 16.

Number of Oscar nominations Club will generate: zero.

Not that every movie needs to earn awards to become worthwhile, but the statistics above offer an indication of how much talent Club boasts. The numbers also imply just how badly Club squanders all that talent.

If one expects a serious look at sex among the elderly, one won’t get it from the comedic, superficial Club. This is the kind of movie in which one character waters plants while she reads Shades and cuts to a shot that signifies “Moisture Meter: Wet”.

For the plant. Of course.


Matters don’t improve from there. When Sharon takes her cat to the vet, the doctor opines that it “sounds like we have a lethargic pussy on our hands”.


And when Carol’s low-energy husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) fixes up an old motorcycle, “aging female body” metaphors fly hot and fast.

Sigh sigh.

If these cheap jokes existed in the service of something more meaningful, I wouldn’t mind them so much. Unfortunately, we find ourselves stuck with uniformly one-dimensional characters played for mawkish sentiment and little more.

On one hand, the movie wants to complain that no one takes sexuality past 60 seriously, but then it treats the topic in a wholly insubstantial manner. There’s not a compelling, believable moment in this ridiculous tripe.

People complain that actresses of a certain age can’t get good movie roles, and Book Club supports that contention. If the massively talented lead cast find themselves forced to appear in crap like this, they must feel desperate.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Book Club appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a mainly satisfactory presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed good, though one should expect a fair amount of soft focus to “de-age” the actors. This meant some shots looked a bit ill-defined, but most of the flick was accurate and detailed.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

Like most films of this sort, Club gave us an amber-tinted palette. Some teal appeared as well, but the golden feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. Despite the softness that appeared to be inherent to the source, I felt pretty happy with the transfer.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Club, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion, mainly in terms of airplanes or restaurant atmosphere. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

Five featurettes appear here, and these launch with It All Started With a Book. In this 10-minute, 56-second piece, we hear from writer/producer Erin Simms, writer/director Bill Holderman, producer Alex Saks, and actors Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Don Johnson and Craig T. Nelson,

“Started” looks at the movie’s roots and development, story/characters, the tale’s path to the screen and Holderman’s work as a first-time director. “Started” provides a surprisingly insightful view of this side of the production.

Next comes Casting Book Club, a 13-minute, 43-second reel with Simms, Holderman, Johnson, Fonda, Bergen, Keaton, Steenburgen, Nelson, casting director Kerry Barden and actors Andy Garcia and Richard Dreyfuss. As expected, this show discusses actors, characters and performances. Inevitably, it trends toward happy talk, but we still get a smattering of good notes.

During the nine-minute, 48-second Location, Location, Location, we hear from Holderman, Simms, Fonda, Steenburgen, Keaton, Bergen, Garcia, on-set dresser Josh Inch, director of photography Andrew Dunn, and property master Sean Mannion.

The program examines shooting in LA along with production design and photography. It becomes another effective piece.

A New Chapter fills nine minutes, three seconds with info from Steenburgen, Keaton, Fonda, Holderman, Bergen, Simms, and Garcia.

“Chapter” views the movie’s themes and concepts. After a good string of featurettes, we get a clunker, as “Chapter” consists of little more than happy fluff.

Lastly, Living in the Moment goes for three minutes, 48 seconds with comments from musician Katharine McPhee and vocal producer David Foster. She chats a little about the song she did for the movie. This feels more like an ad than an informative piece.

13 Deleted Scenes span a total of 11 minutes, 11 seconds. The disc only lists seven of them as truly “deleted”, though. Two more are “alternate” and the other five are “extended”.

Whatever one calls them, they tend to be insubstantial. We get an embarrassing stab at comedy via the TSA and most of the others provide brief tidbits. Nothing here seems particularly interesting.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Club. It includes none of the Blu-ray’s extras.

Some films treat topics related to aging and sexuality well, but Book Club doesn’t become one of those films. Instead, it offers a superficial, caricature-packed piece of idiotic fluff that totally wastes the ample talent it boasts. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with a decent compendium of supplements. Club ends up as a dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 5
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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