Sandy Kenyon reviews the squandered talent that is 'Book Club'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Three Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee play ladies in a book club, and rarely have so many talented women worked harder to elevate material that is so lame.

The more I thought about this "comedy," the less I liked it. If this is what getting older is all about - then I don't want any part of it.

The premise had plenty of promise, with four old friends in a "Book Club" deciding to read "Fifty Shades of Grey." Mary Steenburgen's character is in a marriage that's grown stale, while Candace Bergen portrays a federal judge who says "to even be holding this book is an embarrassment."

The hotel owner played by Jane Fonda is still into sex but has given up on finding love, at least until Don Johnson shows up as an old flame after 40 years. Diane Keaton plays a widow who has just lost her husband, and their adult children aren't helping by telling her, "you need to be a little realistic."

Luckily, she ignores them and allows herself to be romanced by Andy Garcia, playing an airline pilot who is also improbably rich. Keaton's timeless appeal and the chemistry between these two is seen far too rarely in Hollywood movies, which makes her truth and her passion all the more powerful. As she tells her two daughters towards the end of the film, "There's a man out there who makes me feel things I didn't think were still possible."

Had the rest of the movie been so honest, I could recommend it. But instead, what's presented are a few real gems amid a vast array of fake stuff: Wince-worthy sex gags as well as trite and tired situations written by younger hacks trying to imagine what it's like to be as cool and as classy as these four wonderful stars.

Rarely has so much wonderful talent been squandered in one movie, and it pains me to say that because I applaud "Book Club" for trying to show that sublime passion is possible over the age of 70.

To get a second opinion on this one, I enlisted the help of 24-year-old Lia Ehrlich to come with me.

Lia felt the plot was "forced," "crass" and "predictable." Even more "irritating" were female characters who seemed too much like stereotypes and a message "ultimately more disheartening than uplifting." Lia and I both say: Give this one a pass.

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