‘Book Club: The Next Chapter’ Review

Welcome to the soft launch of You Can't Go Back Film reviews. Hopefully a new, successful addition to the site. Sadly here starting off at the very bottom with one of the worst films to ever exist. 

‘The Next Chapter’...

Trailer to Book Club: The Next Chapter (Focus Features / YouTube)

The ‘Next Chapter’ indicates that, yes, this is a sequel.  Having not seen the previous or even heard of the series before watching this I can only presume the first ‘Book Club’ had some level of success/wasn’t as terrible as this and managed to gain enough fans (or profit) to make a sequel an obvious next step. Can confidently say they wouldn't be making a sequel if this was the first film. 

Why was it even called Book Club? 

The film centres around 4 financially well off retired Americans. These female friends in their 70s, who apparently may or may not have a book club, decide to go holiday to Italy. On one hand, it's rare and therefore great when any film gives older people, particularly older women starring roles. But on the other hand it's less impactful when it's four older women playing one role, the role of the loud, rich American abroad. 

In the first 5 minutes there is seemingly some sort of zoom meeting between the 4 of them - queue lamentable, old people struggling with technology jokes. During this scene there must have been more than 5 adverts for Amazon services. I believe one book was opened and a joke was made based on the title… This was the book club element. This is the point I should have stopped watching. That was the ‘Next Chapter; They’d continued their amazon fueled book club during Covid, via the internet! Congratulations! 

Regretfully the ‘Next Chapter’ in the title is a trip to Italy. 

A chilling scene from Book Club: The Next Chapter (Focus Features / YouTube)

One of the ladies, Jane Fonda's character, is getting married to the Don Johnson character, so the majority of the film is kind of an extended Hen weekend. As the last sentence  suggests, it feels like all the big movie stars are all just playing themselves. Wouldn’t be surprised if the opulent backdrop to their Zoom style book club was their actual homes. Diane Keaton is playing the character ‘Diane’ and during one scene I had to check wikipedia as I thought Andy Garcia had accidentally called her by her real name… this was with 5 minutes to go. Not a good sign when you've no idea of anyones name 1 hour 40 into a movie.

Aside from the opening scenes, glimpses of amazon delivered books being opened, books or books clubs don’t feature. They did keep going on about a specific quote from ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, which had so little to do with anything that is going on that I presume whoever wrote the script went to goodreads.com and  just stuck a vague, yet popular, quote in from the Paulo Coelho quotes section.

I managed to laugh once in the film. This was during an earnest speech by Don Johnson where he inexplicably delivered a sentence in a way no human has ever spoken.

Say no to phones in movies.

If I’ve not made it clear by now, and I probably haven't, this film is a vehicle for about 10 successful older actors to go on holiday with their friends and get paid for doing it. Part of me thinks fair play, nice grift you got going. The other part thinks films like this should come with a big sticker on the cover saying ‘Family Inheritance Building, This Is A Business Venture - This Is Not Cinema’.

Another warning it should come with is - 'Contains Lots of Phones'. It felt like every scene a character was on their phone to someone, texting someone, getting notifications, or finding something out on their phone. Phones can be great in films. Lost Highway, Scream, ET, Taken etc. Here, they were not good. Here, they in no way added anything of any value, yet they were used in nearly every scene!  Nothing quite like spending your evening watching a couple of seventy year olds using their mobiles for 2 hours. 

Score out of 1000

250 for having 4 older female characters

25 for  Don Johnson's insane delivery that made me laugh.

-10 because I imagine it wouldn't laugh if I watched it again.

10 for Jane Fonda weirdly becoming more like Dolly Parton.

-195 for being mostly people talking on their phones

-50 for it being called Book Club but it was just an advert for Amazon

30 out of 1000

Not recommended.