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‘Book Club’ Review: Four Screen Legends, ‘Fifty Shades’ and One Really Bad Movie

Four female friends think they can spice up their book club, and maybe their love lives, by wallowing in the kinky prose of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s the premise of this life-after-60 comedy, and there’s not a doubt in the world that it’s a pleasure to bask in the company of the four lead actresses – Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen. Until, that is, you see what debuting director Bill Holderman and his cowriter Erin Simms have concocted for this quartet of greats. Some may feel like this smirking sex farce goes down easy. Others may choke on it – or worse, feel like they’ve wandered into the cinematic equivalent of Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain?

Book Club is set in Los Angeles where everyone’s living la vida luxe in the sort of décor porn that Nancy Meyers might envy. Vivian (Fonda) runs a hotel and has a stable of studs to choose from. Sharon (Bergen) is a federal judge who’s done with the husband (Ed Begley, Jr.) who dumped her for a young trophy fiancé (Mircea Monroe). Diane (Keaton) is a widow who kind of likes being on her own. And Carol (Steenburgen) is a restaurateur with a newly retired husband, Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), who’s having trouble both getting and keeping it up.

So does this movie, which keeps

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