PG-13 Dir: Bill Holderman | Paramount | 1h 44min
Plot: What’s it about?
It would seem that the long-reaching effects of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey series of books knows no bounds. Not only have we had to suffer watch the entire trilogy, now we’ve got other films that are using these books as sources of enlightenment! Who knew? That aside, I have to say that I’d not really seen or heard a lot about this film until I got the press release for its Blu-ray announcement. But, looking at the cast, I have to admit that it raised an eyebrow with me. Yes, most of these actors have been on the big and small screen for several decades and it’s a testament to the filmmakers to have gotten them all in one film. And, as I watch my parents age (who are roughly the same age as those in the film), there’s less and less to do “out and about” and more to do, well, inside. Is Book Club, worth a look?
The film centers around four lifelong friends in a, you guessed it, book club. Though, to be clear, there’s not a lot of reading going on. The women are all successful in different facets of their lives: Vivian (Jane Fonda) owns a swanky hotel, Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge, Carol (Mary Steenburgen) owns a restaurant and then we have Diane (Diane Keaton) who is pretty much, well, herself. The film is essentially a commercial for your book club to read Fifty Shades of Grey and experience a sexual reawakening. Granted, a character wisely points out that “Christian Grey is mentally ill…” Each of the women have a man in their lives played by Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, Ed Begley Jr. and Richard Dreyfuss. Can Christian Grey solve the problems of these octogenarians?
Granted, as a man in his mid 40’s this isn’t the kind of film I’ll go run out and see. But I can certainly appreciate the wealth of talent in the movie and though I’d made up my mind to dislike it, I actually ended up enjoying it a bit more than I’d wanted to. I’m reminded of some other films of this genre including a couple starring Keaton: The First Wives Club, Hanging Up and even a few films like Last Vegas and Big Hogs. Throw them all into a blender and, well, this is what you get I suppose.
Video: How’s it look?
A new to Blu-ray film, Book Club certainly looks the part when it comes to visuals. This is another above average transfer from Paramount, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from them. The colors are vivid when they need to be and subtle when called for, with no signs of erring and flesh tones seem normal and consistent. The contrast shows no problems either, with well defined shadows and no visible detail loss to be seen. It’s colorful, bright and vivid – everything you’d expect from a new to Blu-ray film. With the geriatric cast, however, maybe the detail could have been toned down a bit?
Audio: How’s it sound?
This release includes a fairly standard DTS HD Master Audio track, which offers a terrific audio experience. This is a dialogue based film, so the main surround activity is found within the musical score and soundtrack. Some subtle use can be heard, but the main focus of the surround is the music, sounding rich and full at all times. The other surround use might be rare, but when it does appear it is effective and well-placed, including some excellent directional effects. This is a comedy though, so the dialogue is what you came here to listen to. This track offers crisp and clear vocals at a consistent volume, which never allows them to be drown out by the other elements.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – Not a lot are offered here, but some are funny and worth a look.
- It All Started with a Book – Essentially the journey from script to screen (with a few detours here and there).
- Casting Book Club – A look at the star-studded cast that has more Emmys and Oscars than you can shake a stick at!
- Location, Location, Location – A visit to the set and some interviews with the cast and crew.
- A New Chapter – The cast discuss themes of friendship and romance.
- Living in the Moment – A look at creating the film’s theme song.
The Bottom Line
There’s a certain audience that this movie caters to and, more likely than not, it’s not someone reading this review. Still, there’s no arguing with the stars in the film and it is fun if you sit back and just let yourself have a good time. Paramount’s Blu-ray looks and sounds decent and contains a smattering of supplements that might even warrant a purchase.