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BOOK CLUB: 3 ½ STARS. “‘Sex and the City’ for a different generation.”

For the Johnson family “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the gift that keeps on giving. First Dakota Johnson became a star playing the book’s lead character in the film adaptation. Now her father, Don Johnson, appears in “Book Club,” a tale of four women inspired by the erotic novel to spice up their sex lives.

Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen star as life long friends at different places in their lives. Diane (Keaton) is a recent widow, federal judge Sharon (Bergen) obsesses about her decades old divorce while sensualist Vivian (Fonda) plays the field and Carol (Steenburgen), a chef who wonders if her marriage is headed for the rocks.

The pals have been getting together for book club for forty years—starting with “Fear of Flying,” Erica Jong’s controversial 1973 portrayal of female sexuality. Their lives are shaken up when Vivian brings a new book over. “Ladies I’m not going to let us become those people who stop living before they stop living,” she says. “I would like to introduce you to Christian Grey.” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the soft core look at hard core BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism), becomes the hit of their chardonnay soaked book club—“It says for ‘mature audiences.’” “That certainly sounds like us.”—stirring up some long forgotten desires.

Like the classic rock on the soundtrack “Book Club” is not ashamed of what it is. Predictable in the extreme, it’s a movie that understands its audience and never over reaches. Like I well-worn joke it sets up the premise, delivers a punchline and waits for the laugh. It’s comfort food, a lightly raunchy sitcom about finding love later in life. Ripe with double entendres, it’s a genial boomer sex comedy about the pleasures of listening to vinyl, connecting and reconnecting, about a generation gap and living life to the fullest.

“We’re sure not spring flowers,” says Carol. “More like potpourri,” replies Vivian. They are women of a certain age but in an industry that often ignores older women it is fun to see this quartet front and centre. Bergen wields her wit and delivery like a sabre. Steenburgen’s journey is more about her husband Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) but she brings much charm to the role. Fonda is the vulnerable sexpot, never allowing anyone to get too close (“I don’t need anyone,” she says. “That’s the secret of my success.”) while Keaton’s trademarked fluster and flap is on full display. Together they evoke “Sex and the City” for a different generation.

The men of “Book Club” are fine—Andy Garcia, Don Johnson, Richard Dreyfuss and Nelson—but it is the women, their connection and their groove that makes this movie so enjoyable.

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