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May 12, 2023 / Universal Pictures Canada

Starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Craig T. Nelson, Giancarlo Giannini, Hugh Quarshie, Vincent Riotta

Directed By: Bill Holderman

The highly anticipated sequel follows our four best friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen) as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girls trip they never had. When things go off the rails and secrets are revealed, their relaxing vacation turns into a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country adventure.

Written By Darren

Rating 3.5 out of 5

Book Club: The Next Chapter continues the fun of the 2018 film with Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, all four of whom are excellent and create a truly entertaining watch from start to finish that will be a hit with older audiences looking for an enjoyable film.

In a summer movie season full of superhero films, franchise sequels and remakes, it is nice seeing a smaller film with a cast of legendary actresses getting a sequel. But when your film stars Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, it’s not surprising the original was a hit and a sequel was greenlit. And like any good sequel, Book Club: The Next Chapter one-ups the first film by taking the ladies on an Italian vacation full of beautiful locations, great costumes, and tons of heart and laughs that made the first film a hit.

Finally taking the trip they planned decades ago but never took, best friends Vivian, Carol, Diane and Sharon head off on a girl’s trip to Italy for Vivian’s bachelorette party. What begins as a fun trip turns into a journey of self discovery as each of the women adjusts to a new stage of life thanks to unexpected meetings, new love and lots of Italian food and wine.

For the majority of the film, we are treated to an enjoyable adventure across Italy as we watch our main characters embark on a bachelorette party adventure. Being set in Italy, there are lots of jokes centered around food and art that retain the same comedic style of the first film, aimed towards older audiences and their considerations. Some of the best moments revolve around Steenburgen’s Carol and her reuniting with her long lost friend from cooking school and the sexual, food related jokes; or Bergen’s Sharon and her ongoing run-ins with the law. Even with a blunderous opening sequence set over Zoom during the beginning of the pandemic, which was not great and makes me wish Hollywood would stop trying to create comedy out of the pandemic as it hardly ever works, the film quickly recovers and finds its footing, making for a delightful watch from start to finish. The individual arcs of each main character is strong, playing out with strong values and a heartwarming ending that is going to play well to the target audience of the film. Guaranteed by the end of the film, you will have a big smile on your face as you are walking out of the theater as it is very hard not to have a fun time with this film.

The main draw of the film is the lead cast of Fonda, Keaton, Steenburgen and Bergen. Each of them is a star in their own right, and watching the four of them share the screen is a blast. It feels like you are watching four old friends getting back together, letting the prosecco flow and having pure, unadulterated fun. Their infectious energy fills the entire film, creating a warm and welcoming dynamic that immediately invests you in their characters and the personal struggles. Each of them is hilarious in their own unique way, matching both their character and the persona that audiences associate with each actress. Supporting these timeless leading ladies is a cast that includes Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Don Johnson, and Giannini Giancarlo, all of whom have a small role with their own moments to shine.

Shot on location in Italy, watching the film feels like a getaway itself. From the stunning locations in Rome, the canals of Italy, to the beautiful Italian countryside, it is easy to get swept up in the adventure that these ladies are on as the locations become a fifth main character in the film. The food looks delicious and the costumes are great, especially Keaton’s power dress which is a dress that you could only imagine her pulling off. All topped off with a soundtrack of classic American popular songs performed in Italian, and Steenburgen rocking out to “Gloria” on the accordion, I do not know what more I could have wanted from this film that it did not deliver.

Effortlessly becoming the definition of “summer fun” within minutes, Book Club: The Next Chapter is an endearing and entertaining trip through Italy with four of Hollywood’s most memorable female stars. With the star power and wonderful onscreen chemistry between Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen that lights up the film from start to finish, visiting Italy in cinema has never been more fun or fabulous than in Book Club: The Next Chapter which is bound to entertain audiences and have them leaving the theater feeling joyful.

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