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Peek at the Patricia: Comedy sequel provides consistent entertainment

Book Club: The Next Chapter reunites Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen for a bachelorette trip to Italy
[From left] Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen star in Book Club: The Next Chapter.

Book Club: The Next Chapter, the sequel to the 2018 hit comedy, is an affectionate romp that reunites Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda with Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen on a bachelorette trip to Italy. It’s an unabashed love letter to four great movie stars.

The highly anticipated sequel follows our four best friends 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.

Keaton’s deft-clumsy openness, Fonda’s ineffable elegance and strength, Bergen’s unparalleled timing and stinging wit, and Steenburgen’s graceful ebullience are on full display, and they’ve moved on from the Fifty Shades trilogy — which, five years ago, jump-started their lives on the romance and sex fronts — to the pop mysticism of Paulo Coelho’s self-help fable The Alchemist and its advice to embrace serendipity and not submit to fate.

It’s the kind of film that exists for the sole purpose of entertainment, which it provides consistently, and for the innocent and heartfelt fun the film delivers on excellently. It’s a pleasant Hollywood fairytale where likable people in nice outfits go somewhere pretty.

The audience that made the first movie a hit won’t mind that one bit.

Book Club: The Next Chapter, rated PG, plays at the Patricia Theatre from June 2 to 6, with a matinee Sunday, June 4, at 1:30 pm. Running time is one hour and 48 minutes.

Gary Shilling is executive director of qathet Film Society.