Most people know I’m in the business of loving and talking about romantic comedies for my living. I love the genre and for many years Hollywood has been underserving the market making very few feature film rom-coms and forcing the audience to turn to TV movie providers like Hallmark (Check out Hallmarkies Podcast here) and streamers like Netflix. Fortunately over the last year and a half we’ve seen a bit of a rom-com renaissance and I’m here for it even when the results are imperfect but engaging films (even when they are outright bad I want more rom-coms please!!)
Our latest entries come in the form of a sequel Book Club: The Next Chapter and a remake of a German film (SMS für Dich) called Love Again. Neither of these films are masterpieces but I had enough fun to recommend both of them particularly for fans of the genre.
Let’s start with Love Again– a new rom-com starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan with an extended cameo from Celine Dion. Jonas plays a woman who loses her boyfriend in a bizarrely staged accident at the beginning of the film. To deal with her grief she starts texting her boyfriend’s old number and Heughan plays a journalist who just happens to get this number as his new work phone. He becomes fascinated with the woman writing the messages and they meet and you can fill in the blanks.
This is the same plot we got in a Hallmark movie called The Christmas Promise, which was much better, and I highly recommend.
Nevertheless, I thought Jonas and Heughan had a spark when they were together and even though this is totally a rom-com that could be a horror movie it still overall charmed me and I thought everything with Celine Dion was cute. I love the idea of people falling in love over their words. Maybe it’s because I have a fantasy of someone falling in love with me and my words (ridiculous I know) but movies are about fantasy and I have fun seeing it played out (I think it would have been better if Heughan’s character had texted her back so they were both involved with the communication not just her.)
I wish Love Again was made better. The editing is weird, the comedy and tonal shifts are clunky. It was shot in London but they make it pretend to be New York, which makes scenes like an opera house that’s not the Met odd. I honestly think the Hallmark movie I mentioned above is more well made than Love Again but I had enough fun with it to overcome its flaws. I think fans of the genre will see what they are going for with the movie and have a good time with it.
I also have a soft spot in my heart for Celine Dion after attending her concert got me through a tough time in 2006.
6 out of 10
Book Club: The Next Chapter
Next up we have the sequel to 2018’s Book Club, which I enjoyed back then and I felt the same way about this new installment. Honestly I feel like a review for this movie is pretty simple. If you see the poster and trailer and it looks appealing you will enjoy this movie. It delivers exactly what it promises and isn’t that what we ask of our movies?
Book Club: The Next Chapter promises a senior gal-pal adventure throughout Italy with lots of shenanigans and friendship and that’s what it gives us. I do think it is a little too long and would be better at the TV movie 90 minute length but this group of women are charming and I enjoyed being with them once again.
Jane Fonda’s character Vivian is the focus of this entry with her bachelorette party taking the women to Italy- first Tuscany, than Rome and Venice. Italy has been a favorite location for rom-coms lately with Hallmark going there multiple times last year (we joke on the podcast that the only place you are allowed to fall in love is Ireland and Italy these days and this movie continues that trend.) However, there certainly is a reason these movies go to Italy so often- it’s a beautiful and romantic country both in its nature, art, food and architecture.
Candice Bergen gets the most broad comedy of the bunch with Mary Steenburgen and Diane Keaton having more weighty serious stories but they are all sweet and endearing. The men of the film all do a fine job as mostly arm candy for our leading ladies (Andy Garcia is got to be the most handsome man over 60 I’ve ever seen.) I do think Giancarlo Giannini is under-used as the local Italian police officer. I love him so much in A Walk in the Clouds (so underrated!) and would have loved to have seen him get more to do here.
All that said if you are in the mood for a light comedy with some dynamic actresses who feel like genuine friends than Book Club: The Next Chapter is a great choice. It is brilliant they released it over Mother’s Day weekend because it’s an ideal movie to watch with your mother and grandmother if they are still with you and have a laugh together. I wish my grandma was still here. She would have loved that.
7 out of 10
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