Almost everyone with a pulse will hit movie theaters this week to check out Deadpool 2, the first film with a legitimate shot to dethrone Avengers: Infinity War from the top perch at the box office.

Those looking to escape the summer comic book and blockbuster onslaught will have to settle for Book Club.

“Settle” may not be an appropriate description, as Book Club isn’t without its charms, which come primarily via an all-star cast that includes Oscar winners Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen, and Emmy winner Candice Bergen.

It’s in that cast that the conventional comedy finds its strength as each and every one of them brings something to the table. They portray a group of lifelong friends navigating the next phase of life — that time when the kids have flown the coop and life belongs to them and, to those who have them, their spouses.

Fonda’s Vivian, a very successful hotelier, remains carefree and single. Keaton’s Diane is learning to deal with life as a widow and two hovering, obnoxious daughters who think she’s practically dead. Carol (Steenburgen) is a restaurateur who is struggling with marital difficulties with her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson). Bergen’s Sharon is a federal judge who hasn’t remarried after being divorced for close to two decades.

To be honest, they’re in a rut. Vivian, recognizing this, prescribes a cure. The friends have always met on a monthly basis to share and discuss a book. Her next choice for them to read: Fifty Shades of Grey.

Guess what initially creates guffaws before eventually influencing their lives? Vivian hooks up with the only man she ever loved after 40 years. Diane meets and is romanced by a handsome airline pilot (Andy Garcia). Carol manages to find the courage to talk to her husband about their “issues.” Sharon? The judge loosens her robes — significantly.

In that respect, the film plays like Love Actually, weaving their assorted stories in and out of the overall narrative. It makes Book Club more enjoyable and holds the audience’s attention.

Written by Ben Holderman, who makes his directorial debut, along with Erin Simms, there’s little revolutionary about this rumination on life, love, growing old and what it all means. Holderman assembles a stellar cast that reminds those in the audience familiar with their past successes, just why they are held in such esteem.

Book Club is a comedy with charm that matches its cast’s skills. If death, mayhem and graphic violence aren’t your idea of a good time at the movies, this is a good alternative.

George M. Thomas can be reached at