Far from the year’s best comedy, the entertaining Book Club nonetheless leads 2018 in double entendres. Without such amusing scenes as Craig T. Nelson fondly talking about renovating his motorcycle without realizing what he’s saying, the film wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable, but thanks to its embrace of juvenilia, it works more often than not.
A Walk in the Woods writer Bill Holderman’s directorial debut, penned with former Robert Redford assistant Erin Simms, the film centers on four longtime friends who stay close with the help of the titular monthly gathering.
Though Diane Keaton again plays herself — to the point that her character is straight up named Diane — and Jane Fonda doesn’t have to strain much as a plastic surgery sexpot, they have a pleasant rapport with a similarly familiar Mary Steenburgen and a refreshingly awkward Candice Bergen.
The four read 50 Shades of Grey and, through a mix of personal motivation and the power of convenient plotting, discover the various sparks that have been missing from their lives and attempt to restore them to comedic and occasionally touching ends.
The impressive cast also includes Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Wallace Shawn and Richard Dreyfuss as love interests, plus Alicia Silverstone and Katie Aselton as Keaton’s overprotective daughters and Ed Begley Jr. as Bergen’s bimbo-loving ex-husband.
Together, they respectfully navigate such tricky topics as romance among the AARP set, widowhood and meddlesome children, but wisely keep laughs at the forefront.
Grade: B-minus. Rated PG-13. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark
(Photo: Paramount Pictures)