So I was a little nervous when I saw the women simpering over "50 Shades of Grey" in ads for the movie. I figured it had to have a big funny turn coming. And you see a romantic comedy written about folks of "a certain age", and I thought, "okay, this could be interesting." Nope. First you have the flat, unfunny screenplay. It is more of an outline, or a gloss of what the story could be, without a single truly funny joke. And whenever there is a chance for the actors to be sexy and engaging, the movie veers off in another direction. I live in L.A. and have had occasion to meet many of the players in this film. And you know what? They are still sexy, and they still have that indefinable something that makes people sit up and take notice. Call it charisma, or whatever you like, they have it in abundance. But not in this film. I get the feeling that whoever wrote this, they are fairly young. They don't really think older people can be romantic, sexy or interesting. It feels more like a "hey this will be a commercial idea." Not when you don't have romance or comedy in the script from the start. This is what these actors are offered? Such a shame. And the directing tries desperately to get some dynamics, some sort of energy into scene after scene. But it is impossible. Did somebody write this about their mother, but they don't really know her very well? The women simper, and practically get the vapors, or do the old Monty Python "nudge nudge, wink wink" bit over the Grey novel. Really? Have they been sequestered in a nunnery?
The Andy Garcia character scolds and corrects Diane Keaton's character for not answering the phone "the right way." He says let's try that again and hangs up to call her back. And by golly, she picks up the phone, and in a completely non-ironic way says "hello" like a little girl. I don't know any man who would do this, and certainly not a successful airline pilot. And if he did, no female over 13 would even pick up the phone again, except to tell him where he can put his proper way to answer her own phone!
Over drinks with Garcia, Diane Keaton's character says she had her first kiss with "Terry Saunders", in elementary school. And Garcia's character says, "Was that a boy or a girl?" and she says, "Well a girl! Obviously." Why obviously? How is it that these women are so boring, and speak as if they are out of a really bad B reel from the 1950's? Why?
And all four actresses are great at snappy, funny, smart woman dialogue. Why does the movie dumb, dumb, dumb them down? Keaton's character is afraid of, well everything, and in a damn dumb way. Steenburgen is given not even one crappy joke. And somehow, she needs to be told about Viagra, and have it explained by her friend. Okay. Candace Bergen is written as someone who moves through each scene declaiming, "can we stop talking about sex? Enough with penises already." So why is she friends with these women, and in a Book Club where they choose to read the "Grey" novel? Does the writer or writers of the movie not want to know that their moms did it, and still do it if they have the opportunity? Or their dads either? Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Dreyfuss, and Don Johnson do what they can, but the movie tones each of them down too. Such a waste.
A grown daughter say to her mom, "Oh I forget how your generation gets dressed up to fly on an airline." Everyone in the movie sees people only in terms of them being older. There are many exchanges like this, but they aren't funny, just plop out of the actors mouths, and sit there. And no one reacts to these odd statements, they just keep a going.
Why aren't any of these characters bisexual or gay, or at least examining who they are?
Why cast talented, great looking actors and stars, and then desex them, dumb them down, and trot them out to plod around in this lukewarm pond? Oh and a lot of whining and whinging, especially from Keaton's character.
Is this a movie about characters reading a recent best selling book and movie, and it triggering change in their lives, or maybe this is a movie hoping to ride the financial coattails of an extremely successful book, (books) and movie? Such an odd attempt. And then it flattens every little sexy bit of these men and women, and every witty bit too. Instead we get the dreaded, "and then this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens and on and on" never any increase in tension or spinning the comedy higher and higher. Just one foot after the other, for no particular reason. First Steenburgen's character speechifies to her husband, and then Fonda to Don Johnson. Towards the end, poor Candace Bergen has to deliver a "neither or borrower nor a lender be" speech, that is painful to watch. Finally, Diane Keaton has her blechy speech to her obnoxious daughters because if they weren't obnoxious, she wouldn't get to deliver the speech. Oy.