Review: ‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’

Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, And Mary Steenburgen Take A Trip To Italy In This Rom Com Sequel

In 2018, Paramount Pictures released a romantic comedy about four older women, all old friends, who decide to read the Fifty Shades of Grey series. Despite, negative reviews, the film made over $100 million. Focus Features is now releasing the sequel, Book Club: The Next Chapter with stars Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen returning. 

This time trading Los Angeles for Italy, the women open the film during the pandemic, where we see what all four have been up to. Carol’s (Steenburgen) restaurant has closed due to the lack of business, Sharon (Bergen) retired from being a judge which had evolved into marrying people, Diane (Keaton) is still living with her boyfriend Richard and cleaning out her late husband’s things, and Vivian (Fonda) is surprisingly domestic down with her boyfriend Arthur (Don Johnson).

As the meet in person for the first time in two years to discuss Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Carol uses Vivian’s recent engagement to try and convince them to go to Italy. While some have objections, they eventually make their way over there where they sightsee, observe art, meet old and new flames, get their luggage stolen, and eat to their hearts content. It all culminates in Tuscany where one of the women eventually walks down the aisle. 

The plot doesn’t really start until a third of the way through and even then, there’s not much conflict. It really feels like we are watching three friends on a slightly mundane girls trip. The dialogue feels like it was written by AI with cliche lines and cheesy jokes about naked statues. 

Don’t get me wrong, Book Club: The Next Chapter is fun. Bergen, Steenburgen, Keaton, and Fonda are clearly having a good time and Italy is gorgeous to look at. It doesn’t give you much to chew on, but it doesn’t necessarily need to. When I took my mother to the screening she said, “Movies like this are like Star Wars for women my age.” Wish-fulfillment fantasy movies come along in all shapes and forms, but this one needs more purpose in its script.

It has been five years since the first Book Club came out and since then stories centered on older people have varied. Michelle Yeoh and Anthony Hopkins won Oscars for Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Father, respectively, for their moving portraits of age in the modern day. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin finished a successful run on Grace and Frankie. In fact, we are six months into 2023 and Book Club: The Next Chapter is Fonda’s third movie of the year after the similar 80 For Brady and Moving On. Clearly, the audience is there for these stories to be told. However, older generations, specifically older women, deserve better quality than Book Club: The Next Chapter.

Book Club: The Next Chapter is in theaters now. Watch the trailer below.


'Book Club: The Next Chapter
Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-book-club-the-next-chapterThere's not much going on in 'Book Club: The Next Chapter', but Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen all seem to be having fun.