Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Club Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen star in the comedy Book Club. These lifelong friends will spice up their book club with “Fifty Shades of Grey”, but they will end up shaking up their lives in other ways they never expected. The Book Club Blu-ray combo pack is now available to own with almost an hour of bonus content.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Vivian (Jane Fonda) is a successful hotel owner, who is happily single. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is a federal judge who is divorced and lives with her cat. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) is a chef, who is happily married. Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed.  These lifelong friends have had a 40-year book club. Each month, they take turns picking the book. The theme this year is best sellers made into movies and Vivian has chosen “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

Some will object to the racy story lines but all four will read the new book. Soon they will be reading the entire trilogy, while their own lives are being turned upside down. Sharon considers online dating. Carol tries to spice up her marriage. Diane meets a new man while her grown daughters are trying to move her to Arizona where they can keep an eye on her. Vivian reunites with an old flame and wonders if she has been wrong about her entire outlook on life.

Book Club has some very touching moments. Anyone who has missed out on love or had regrets can relate. Girls of any age can imagine that they might stay together and have their own book club or friendship that could span forty years, just like the ladies in the film. At age 40, I’m at least 20 years shy of the primary demographic for this film. 

The film also has some excellent casting. The primary female and male roles are very well cast. I am not personally a fan of Diane Keaton. One of the parts was written specifically for her and I don’t happen to like her so that’s not a plus. For most people it probably is. All the other roles are. Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen are friends I would want to have. Watching Jane Fonda melt down at the end when she finally falls in love is something predictable, but sweet. Even though I don’t like Diane Keaton, when the book club might have to go on without her, I did find that touching. The four women have great chemistry together and are very believable as old friends.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Book Club Blu-ray offers 1080p high definition with a widescreen 16:9 resolution. Colors are vibrant. Pink flowers outside of Diane’s house when she is picked up for her date pop. Green grass in front of Carol’s house in contrast to her red shirt will really make you notice the color palette, as does Sharon’s blue blouse. Sharon’s face cream provides the opportunity to notice textures. Skin tones are accurate and even. Dark interior shots and open air, sunlight scenes all look good on this Blu-ray.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Book Club’s DTS-HD Master Audio track is dialogue heavy, as expected. Music and dialogue are lower levels than expected and I turned the volume up higher than I’d usually watch a film to compensate. Beyond dialogue and music, there aren’t other audio effects like gunfire and car chases. This is a romantic comedy, so it goes easy on your sound system.
Extras – (3 out of 5 stars)
  • It All Started with a Book (10:56) – Inspiration for the main characters, the path the project took, the creative team which included a first-time director and ensemble cast. 
  • Casting Book Club (13:44) – Similarities between cast and their characters are discussed. Pairing men and women and how they came on board is detailed in this featurette. 
  • Location, Location, Location (9:48) – See the reasons this was a Los Angeles movie. The production designer and her use of as is locations is discussed as well as shooting challenges and triumphs. 
  • A New Chapter (9:03) – The ladies of Book Club discuss ageism, and the related messages from the film. 
  • Living in the Moment (3:49) – A look behind the scenes recording the song “Living in the Moment” with Producer David Foster and Singer Katharine McPhee. 
  • Deleted Scenes (11:11 total runtime) – Thirteen deleted scenes available with play all feature or individually.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
A book club with a group of women who read the book is a novel idea (pun intended). It’s nice to see that these women are really reading their books instead of just getting together and not talking about the books they were supposed to read. I don’t know how much the books have to do with the changes in their lives. Christian Grey might have inspired Diane to take a chance on a handsome pilot. Beyond that the correlations are probably minimal. He certainly gave Carol some bright ideas about how to spice up her marriage. The movie is cute and will be very well received by the women in your life at or near the age of the women in the book club.

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