Book Club: The Next Chapter

Book Club: The Next Chapter is a movie that’s as lightweight as a feather. We know going into it that the characters are not going to face any kind of severe jeopardy. Even if they do, they’ll use their charms to seduce anyone or anything to their perspective and allow the story to reach the finish line with its happy ending.

As someone who still has not seen the first Book Club movie, and even though I’m familiar with its premise, I do know that its female-centric cast will find moments of inspiration that will garner a chuckle from me here and there. However, its unabashed predictability holds me at bay from recommending it. Having said that, it does have those saccharine moments that are irresistible for fans of the first movie.

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen return in their roles as four friends who form a book club, and this time they’re delving into the philosophy of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. These women hope to live out the book’s pursuit of finding treasure, but instead of going to Egypt, they decide to take a girls’ trip to Italy.

Fonda’s Vivian is planning her wedding to Don Johnson’s Arthur when he encourages her to go on the trip. Steenburgen’s Carol is dealing with the health issues of her husband (Craig T. Nelson), who tries to sneak bacon by her even though she’s got security cameras throughout the house and on her person even when in Rome. Keaton’s Diane is contemplating whether or not to take her relationship with Andy Garcia’s Mitchell to the next level. And Candice Bergen’s Sharon is still the single one. See? I said it was lightweight.

The women journey all over Italy from Rome to Venice while taking in all the sights and even getting a bit of Gondola sailing. They visit an art museum that features the sculpture of the David, although I’m sure none of them are art buffs. Plus, the movie does give a bit of character development when Steenburgen’s Carol gets reacquainted with an old flame. They bake bread.

These women know how to cater to their target audience, and those who loved the first one will no doubt find this sequel to be a pleasant follow-up. I have to admit that there is a great deal of pleasantness throughout until we get to the climax, which bogs down into too much sentimentality and will inevitably lead to a third chapter.

Book Club: The Next Chapter isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but it’s too caught up in its own routine to give us anything surprising. Then again, I guess that’s what its audience demands.

Grade: B-

(Rated PG-13 for some strong language and suggestive material.)

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