Good Reads (CREDIT: © 2023 FIFTH SEASON, LLC)

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy García, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Giannini

Director: Bill Holderman

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Saucy Puns

Release Date: May 12, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: They’re not reading anything as spicy as Fifty Shades of Grey this time, but Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) are still keeping their book club going. And they’re not going to let a little thing like a pandemic get in their way. Yes, indeed, the opening of Book Club: The Next Chapter is a COVID-19 period piece, as the ladies Zoom out their thoughts about the likes of Normal People, Untamed, and The Woman in the Window. When they’re finally able to reunite in person, they quickly decide that there’s simply no better time for an Italian vacation. Along the way, old flames are rekindled, the local authorities get snippy, and the wine flows freely. So not much in the way of reading, but I guess all book clubs need to close the back covers eventually.

What Made an Impression?: Before the days of easily accessible commercial plane flights, there were plenty of travelogue films showing off various corners of the world to viewers who would never actually see them in person. Travel documentaries still exist today, of course, as do their close fictional counterparts like Book Club: The Next Chapter. The difference nowadays is that if you have a few spare benjamins lying around, you can hop across the Atlantic without too much trouble. I’m not saying that this movie is just an extended commercial for Italy’s tourism board, but I’m also not not saying that.

As for the actual people romping around Italy, they know why we love them and they’re here to deliver. If you want the offbeat fashion, Diane Keaton is rocking them. If you want someone who can slay hearts at any age, Jane Fonda is here. If you want the deadly zingers, Candice Bergen is going to deliver them. And if you want a warm and vulnerable conversation, there’s not many who can do that much better than Mary Steenburgen. This is basically like the European leg of their greatest hits tour, and it’s also kind of just an excuse for them to go on vacation together. And hey, if Adam Sandler can build a huge chunk of his career out of that strategy, then why can’t this quartet of septuagenarian and octogenarian legends do the same?

Book Club: The Next Chapter is Recommended If You Like: An overabundance of food-based sexual metaphors

Grade: 3 out of 5 Wedding Dresses