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every thought i had while watching book club 2
it is garbage it is art it is camp it is anti-cop
There are certain days in every girl’s life that she dreams about. Days she looks forward to for years on end, plans around, wishes and waits and prays will one day come, sooner, hopefully, rather than later. One of those days: the release of Book Club 2 in cinemas.
Was my life changed the day I saw the first installment of this fine film franchise, on my [redacted]th birthday, feeling old (laughable in retrospect) and sorry for myself (laughable in retrospect), with a smuggled-in a water bottle full of rosé in my bag (incredibly laughable in retrospect but only because I still do this) and surrounded by the Upper West Side’s finest selection of seniors at the Lincoln Square AMC? I think so, yes. I mean, see for yourself:
Book Club (2018) is a firmly chaotic good, gloriously unhinged Photoshop-filled major motion picture comedy about four friends—Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen—who have met regularly for their titular book club since college, and, now in their 70s (ish?) find their lives upended by their latest read: the 50 Shades trilogy. Book Club took what could have been a hagsploitative trope of horny old ladies behaving badly and spun it into something warm and slyly smart, even if it did veer off the rails at times. Shot independently on a tight $14 million budget, it was the surprise hit of the summer when it was finally acquired and distributed by Paramount. Its $104 million+ worldwide gross made Hollywood do what Hollywood always does when something performs well, financially: Turn it into a blueprint and run it into the ground with a slew of imitations. And, look, I don’t dislike the Book Club Cinematic Universe (BCCU). For one thing, I’m glad that there’s a Marvel rival!!! For another, I’m delighted to see these iconic actresses on the big screen, no matter how messy the movie. I love it, even when I have complicated feelings about wanting to see these actresses in more quality, prestige-level film roles (I am so serious when I say: Give the girlies their The Irishman!!!) that they deserve to be playing. In 2020 (pre-March lol) I went long on Book Club for Bright Wall/Dark Room, writing about these types of films: “I will cheer for them, and raise a too-full glass of wine to their box office success in hopes that they will open doors for more to come.”
And folks, the day has finally arrived. Three years after I wrote those words, three years of sitting through so many movies that wanted so badly to be Book Club but paled in comparison, wishing and hoping that we’d see a Book Club sequel and, after filming news, tweeting variations on “I’m hinging my mental health on the promise of seeing this movie in a theater” for at least a year: it’s here. The girlies are back, and this time they’re headed to Italy for a post-Covid (please pause here and laugh) “bachelorette party” (you can also pause here and laugh, go ahead) misadventure. Here is every thought I had watching Book Club: The Next Chapter.
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(light spoilers, but, like, come on; this movie can’t be spoiled).
I’ve already had one nice little glass of rosé and, while power-walking to the theater with a water bottle with more in my purse (I’m trying to recreate my experience seeing the first film!), I make awkward eye contact with Michael Imperioli as he pulls himself away from the window display at Lovesac. I need to know who is buying these poorly named couches and also what about them drew the eye Christopha Moltisanti, but those are thoughts for another time. I am going to see Book Club 2 and the night is mine!!!!!!!
Obviously, I saw this at the Lincoln Square AMC, the only theater in New York City that matters. Just a few Sundays ago, I caught a matinee of Somewhere in Queens and had the quintessential Lincoln Square AMC Experience in that a kooky octogenarian carrying a tiny Pomeranian sat down directly in front of me—despite there being maybe 12 other people, at best, in the entire theater—and as she placed her dog on its own separate seat and got it situated, an employee came in and was like “uh, babe, you can’t bring pets in here???” and she argued with him through the previews and won!!!!! Then, later in the film, two senior ladies were pulled out because they kept holding up their iPhones and (badly!) filming entire scenes. Incredible! I went into Book Club 2 hoping for this exact level of chaos, but sadly I think that’s matinee behavior. My 7:45 p.m. screen time was filled with me and a bunch millennial girlies and gays—which, yes, is another key demo for the BCCU, just not the one I want!!! That’s fine, just another excuse to see this movie again!
On that note, they’re opening with a pre-recorded message from the cast thanking us for bringing our moms to see the movie. There is not a single mom in sight in this audience. We are the moms now.
Opening Book Club 2 with a quote from The Alchemist, a Tom Petty needle drop, and an extended preamble full of fake Zooms recapping the height of the pandemic—including a ptsd triggering 7 p.m. healthcare worker cheer? I’m literally shaking.
Candice Bergen Slut Era!!!!!!!!!
Andy Garcia’s character’s living room has an end table that has built-in jewel case CD storage, and for that perfect detail alone, I tip my hat to production designer Stefano Maria Ortolani and set decorator Chiara Balducci and their teams.
Forgot how hot Don Johnson still is (sorry)
Obsessed with Jane Fonda’s proclivity for wearing wigs in her recent movies. There is simply no rhyme or reason to it (don’t get me started on 80 For Brady). Why did she have to be a redhead in the first Book Club!? Whose decision was that!? What was wrong with her regular hair!? We don’t know! But I do love the little touch of gray in her be-wigged bangs this go-around, a nod to her decision to finally go gray (for the environment, iirc) IRL in 2020 and also her character being cut off from a salon during lockdown (even though….it’s just her bangs and the rest of the roots remain untouched!!!) I say all of this as a girly who found a gray root coming in—not just gray but WHITE! TRANSLUCENT, practically!—despite the fact that I am still very young and also pay a lot of money every month to be a more natural than Jane Fonda in Book Club redhead. I freaked out for a minute but then literally said to myself, “Okay, I’ve come of Book Club age.”
As an avid fan of Diane Keaton’s Instagram (and her work, duh), I have seen enough of these ‘fits already to ask: Did Diane simply supply her own wardrobe, or did she just take a lot of it home with her?
There is nothing I love more than a shopping montage in a movie, and Book Club 2’s wedding dress extravaganza is no exception, especially given the decision to land on a choice that is by far the ugliest look of the bunch!!!! That’s camp, baby!!!
They have only been in Italy for ONE DAY—not even 24 hours!—but I have already lost track of how much wine they’ve had. A new glass (or two, or three…) in every scene! I know this is just a movie, but there is no way these girlies should be up and walking and talking like it’s nothing! A next morning addendum: Holy hell, I am less than half their age and woke up with 4 a.m. hangxiety after three glasses of wine I drank before/during the movie thinking, “oh no oh my god that was so dumb, why did I drink that much, I am too old for stupid shit like that!” Is Book Club a subtle character study of high functioning alcoholism!!??!?
This movie is anti-cop, I will not explain it further!!!
This movie is pro-Olive Garden (complimentary)
There is simply no way Jane Fonda or Don Johnson are capable of texting so fast. That is iMessage via desktop level speed for even the non-arthritic fingered among us.
I wish this was as kooky and unhinged as the first, but I still respect it.
Okay literally thirty seconds after saying that, I was met with a needle drop/karaoke moment (!) that is so spectacularly insane that I cannot bring myself to spoil it beyond saying: “Mary Steenburgen is playing an accordion.” I am LEVITATING.
On that note: Mary Steenburgen is so underrated!!!
This movie is so drunk girls in the bathroom having a heart to heart coded.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Even if I can predict every single plot beat about four steps ahead, even if dialogue or plot devices are sometimes extremely on-the-nose, even if these films sometimes have messy executions or feel a little plug-and-play: I love that BCCU movies (and this movie does it best) assert strongly that these women are still fuckable and still like to fuck!!! And that’s that on ageism and youth worship in Hollywood!
Another thing I’ve said a million times but stand by: BCCU movies have impeccable music supervision, and there are several classic rock ITALIAN VERSION! needle drops in this picture that are, quite simply, chef’s kiss.
I am never quite sure where Candice Bergen ends and her characters begin but I feel quite certain that if I ever met her I would simply be deservedly devastated by brilliantly salty one-liner. (I walked by her on Fifth Avenue once last summer and she looked so characteristically over it; it was perfect.) That trait is put to extremely good use here.
Diane Keaton having an anxiety attack...she’s so me.
Jane Fonda being scared of getting married…she’s also so me.
BOOK CLUB 2 SAID ACAB!!!!!!!!
Just like you could not pay me to fly private (I could talk about my fear of flying and flight fatality statistics all day, baby), you could NEVER pay me to get in a helicopter, much less one in another country!!! These women are BRAVE.
Andy Garcia has me biting my lip that should be illegal???
The chemistry between Andy Garcia and Diane Keaton and Don Johnson and Jane Fonda…I’m smiling so big. I am ecstatic. I am setting unrealistic expectations for myself that I will finally find true love when I am a senior citizen (if I’m not lost to a water war before then).
Every bit player in this film is giving it their absolute fucking all, including an Italian villa hotel manager type guy who wants to be Martin Short in Father of the Bride so bad (complimentary)
Not me tearing the fuck up at a plot twist I saw coming from literally the first three minutes of this film! I am so happy and so drunk!!!
Do not make the same mistake I did and leave just as the credits begin to roll because you drank so much wine you desperately need to pee. There is AN ORIGINAL SONG FEATURING ALL FOUR STARS AND CO-WRITER ERIN SIMMS OVER THE CREDITS. It’s no “Gonna Be You” from the major motion picture 80 For Brady, but I still audibly yelled when I heard it on YouTube the next morning. I am once again saying: When I said bring back theme songs for movies, I did not mean like this!
Does Book Club: The Next Chapter fall a bit into the trap of many sequels, in that it’s kind of unnecessary and its plot falls second to just getting to spend some more time with the cast, even as it tries to do more now that it’s, well, been given more room and more money to do so? Sure. Do I sense it held back on going as off-the-rails as the first did at times? Yeah, but so what. It is serviceable in the best possible sense of the word. It isn’t trying to be anything more than what it knows it is in its heart: a nice little time, a fun and frivolous cotton candy empty calorie lark that you see for a little matinee pick me up. And sometimes that’s enough—sometimes candy really fucking hits the spot. I type this literally as I chew on Twizzlers. More, please.
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