Book Club: The Next Chapter

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


From Bill Holderman (“Book Club”) here is its sequel, subtitled “The Next Chapter.” As you can guess, the book reading ladies are here from 2018, but now in 2023 they are relieved that the pandemic is over.

Vivian (Jane Fonda) meets the gang wearing gloves and no she isn’t a germophobe, she reveals that she is engaged. The ladies are thrilled. Carol (Mary Steenburgen) confesses that she has always wanted to go to Italy, but two of her friends balk at the idea, citing numerous responsibilities, and one house cat. But when Sharon (Candice Bergen) discovers that her cat has passed, the group take it as a sign to go to Tuscany and plan Vivian’s bachelorette party.

Diane (Diane Keaton) gets the green light from her longtime boyfriend Mitchell (Andy Garcia) and the fashionable four are off to Italy: the land of men in marble.

The jokes are in the moderate mode with nothing too outrageous or uncouth. Not from these four anyway. Most of the dialogue concerns older women sowing their wildness.

It’s never too late.

While there is nothing here that is laugh out loud funny, the humor between Fonda and Keaton will produce a few chuckles.

Don Johnson is here once more looking like George Hamilton.

Positively there is feeling here in the quite moments between Fonda and Johnson and Keaton and Garcia, and one does get the sense that the four know each other deeply. Some degree of poignance is achieved during the wedding scene.

Suffice to say, the plot is formulaic and manufactured a bit like looking at a spread from Vanity Fair magazine. But there is comfort in watching the four actors. They all have a rapport.

There is one true belly laugh moment in the appearance of actor Giancarlo Esposito who as a wedding planner, channels the actor, Peter Sellers.

“The Next Chapter” makes an all too tepid sojourn for most, but fans of Fonda, Keaton, Bergen and Steenburgen can still cheer the onscreen ease that the four achieve.

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