Book Club: The Next Chapter Blu-ray Review


  • Director ‏ : ‎ Bill Holderman
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Keaton
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English, Spanish
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Studio Distribution Services
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 2
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 1 hour and 48 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ July 11, 2023


         The premise for Book Club involving four senior friends who take new chances with their lives after deciding to read Fifty Shades of Grey together sounded like something formulated by studio heads. This low-brow high concept relied entirely on the cast of veteran actresses, who most were just excited to see on the big screen without having to be delineated to a supporting role. But other than providing entertainment for an often-ignored demographic, Book Club was little more than sitcom material repurposed for a feature film. Book Club: The Next Chapter serves the same purpose, while also feeling like an excuse to reward these legendary actresses with a European vacation in place of an improved script.


        Just as I’m sure it affected the cast’s decision to agree to make this film, a period of lockdown during the Covid pandemic inspires the four friends to take a trip to Italy together to reconnect. Vivian (Jane Fonda) impulsively agrees to marry Arthur (Don Johnson) after a lifetime of an independent life being single, so the other members of the book club come up with the idea to travel to Italy for a bachelorette trip. Diane (Diane Keaton) sees the trip as an opportunity to spread the ashes of her late husband, allowing her to move on with new flame Mitchell (Andy Garcia). Despite doing her best to enjoy the trip, Carol (Mary Steenburgen) worries about her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), who is recovering from a heart attack. As the only single one in the group, Sharon (Candice Bergen) makes the most out of the trip when she meets retired philosophy professor Ousmane (Hugh Quarshie).


        Just as with the first film, the initial plot is loosely connected to the book club the four friends belong to, though thankfully they have left behind the smutty Twilight fan fiction written by E. L. James. This time they are reading The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, the themes of which are occasionally crammed into the dialogue and storyline. It may not be as flashy or universally known as their previous book of choice, but I was just thankful the characters had something with more substance, even if the book club once again barely plays into the narrative despite the misleading title of the franchise.


        Everything about this film is painfully contrived and never reads as anything but artificial. But if you like any of the actors in the cast, there are moments of enjoyment to be found. The stars don’t have to stretch their acting skills much, essentially just leaning into the screen personas they are best known for without much deviation (Keaton doesn’t even bother to change the character’s name from her own). It still feels like a bad sitcom and the writing does nothing to help the actors, but there is some familiar enjoyment to be found from those who have no desire to be challenged by their entertainment. There are worse things to have on in the background.


        The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release for Book Club: The Next Chapter comes with multiple ways to watch the film, in addition to the high-definition disc. There is also a DVD copy included in the package, and a code for a digital copy of the film. The extras on the discs include a featurette about the cast’s return to the franchise, as well as one about their wardrobe (which seems to have gotten more attention than the script), and another about their Italian filming locations.


Entertainment Value: 6/10

Quality of Filmmaking: 4.5/10

Historical Significance:  3/10

Special Features: 5/10


No comments: