Book Club: The Next Chapter
review by Bobby Blakey
I cannot stand the Fifty Shades franchise, so was surprised to find something that involves it that I might be interested in seeing when the movie Book Club was released in 2018. The film ended up being a hit and starred Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, and Don Johnson. Now director Bill Holderman is back once again with the gang for the follow-up Book Club: The Next Chapter. Could this next chapter be worth the read or will it not be worth the paper it was written on?
Book Club: The Next Chapter follows four best friends as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girl’s trip they never had. When things go off the rails and secrets are revealed, their relaxing vacation turns into a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country adventure.
I found the original film to be fun so was looking forward to seeing what these friends would get into this time around. Much like other sequels like this they looked to capture the same magic with the same formula, but this time around it is more hit and miss than just a great time. The film is funny and made all the better with these ladies banter off of each other and their true friendship.
A lot of the film felt more like they were just riffing off of each other and instead of an actual story we are just watching these ladies hanging out. That is part of its charm, but also sometimes limps along and felt forced with nothing really happening other than their discussions for some time. When they final get to some of their more crazy adventures of their trip it picks up and is all the more entertaining.
I loved that they used the Pandemic lockdown as a starting point to further their lives since we last saw them and leads to them reuniting as it gave it purpose for their coming back together as opposed to life being just churning along as usual and we are falling back in. They use this story to not only further explore their lives and friendship, but also to give each character a chance to grow more and its these elements that make you care a bit more about them.
My favorite of the group, much like the original is still Steenburgen who brings that joyous energy and life to the group and gets some great new directions to her story. Bergen also felt more relaxed and fun this time around bringing a stronger character that we got to see shining through in the previous film all the better now. Keaton has that quirky vibe and works it like only she can, once again coming into her own finding her new journey and acceptance. Lastly is Fonda who always commands the room and does the same here, but gets to show a more vulnerable side than before and makes the character more interesting.
While I don’t think this chapter is as good as the first or even necessary, I think for the target audience it will likely work perfectly. All the ladies are fantastic as always and have more than earned their place in the industry to do whatever they want.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including featurettes taking you behind their latest trip. Join in on the European trip with Book Club: The Next Chapter available now on digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on July 11th from Universal.