A romantic comedy about friendship, love, and the ups and downs of life in your 60s starring four strong, talented female actresses, Candace Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen, sounds like the perfect recipe for box-office bliss, right?
Well, not exactly, according to Susan Brumer, LCSW, successful social worker, grad school teacher, and baby boomer who had a strong opinion about the message Book Club sends to older generations of women after seeing the recently released film.
As a professional and divorcee in her 60s, Brumer had high hopes for thoroughly enjoying the lighthearted rom-com, Book Club. With a veteran cast of fellow Baby Boomers exploring the all too familiar struggle of finding love and happiness in your golden years, what’s not to enjoy?
Apparently, a lot.
While Brumer admits that the premise of the film and the acting were spot-on, her thoughts on the underlying messages that the film delivered were less encouraging.
Unlike other reviews that criticize Book Club’s less-than interesting characters and played-out comedy routines, Brumer’s disappointment stems from the false message that the film sends about being over 60 and single.
Book Club focuses on, you guessed it, a book club made up of four friends, each representing a more cliché “type” of mature woman than the last, who all become aroused and inspired in a variety of ways by the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, prompting each of them to ultimately change their lives, land a perfect man, and live happily ever after.
Brumer calls the movie a “fantasy flick”, elaborating on that idea by saying, “The reality of being over 60 and single is not humorous or romantic. Single men 60+ were brain washed by the Hollywood image of their leading ladies. They still only want the tall, thin, beautiful “young” women. Most of the men over 60 date women under 40.”
And since all four of the films 60+ women end up living happily ever after with the handsome, rich, and age-appropriate men that they have been lusting after throughout the film, labeling the movie a “fantasy flick” seems pretty appropriate.
Because while finding a man who is handsome, rich, and age-appropriate is a lovely thought, and perhaps even a reality for some ladies, it is certainly not the overwhelming reality for the majority of single women over 60.
It’s safe to say that most of us can enjoy a movie that offers a happily-ever-after-ending tied up neatly with a bow from time to time, but with the current culture of female empowerment and enlightenment at an all-time high, the underlying message of Book Club feels like a bit of a slap in the face.
Brumer explains that Book Club, while humorous and entertaining, perpetuates unrealistic and tired ideas on age, beauty, and romance, saying, “When I was in graduate school, Hollywood’s movies portrayed young, thin, beautiful girls getting the gorgeous rich men. The man will chase you and as soon as you stop running he will propose marriage and you know how it ends.
Now, 40+ years later, Hollywood is giving the 60+ generation the same old message. This movie had the thin beautiful “older” women catch the gorgeous, rich men their age. They fall in love and… This movie also tells us the attractive, intelligent but “chubby” older women are only desired by the less desirable men.”
While most of us understand that Hollywood often perpetuates unrealistic ideas about beauty and romance, with all of the hard work that is being done to shift the societal norms regarding women’s equality and female empowerment, do we really need another movie telling us that we can only live happily ever after with a man by our side?
Brumer concludes her thoughts on the movie by admitting that she sounds a bit “jaded” and explaining that, “The premise, actors and acting in the “Book Club” were excellent. I would have preferred a romantic comedy that ended realistically and made me laugh, cry and think.”
And while Book Club will most likely make you laugh, if you think too hard about it, you might also find yourself crying over the unrealistic and outdated message that it sends about life, love, and happiness in your 60s.
However, if you can get past the contrived message it sends, you will likely find yourself enjoying the undeniable talent of the all-star cast and multiple laugh-out-loud moments that Book Club features.
Have you seen the recently released film, Book Club? If so, do you feel the message on romance after 60 was unrealistic? What type of movie about love in your 60s and 70s would you like to see made? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below!