Although Bonneville is only the second film directed by Christopher N. Rowley, he managed to woo some classy ladies into this post-menopausal road-trip romp: The still-breathtaking Jessica Lange plays Arvilla, a woman whose husband of 20 years has just passed away. Unfortunately, Arvilla can't seem to find the will she knows her husband must have updated when they got married, and his hideously spiteful daughter from a previous marriage, Francine (Christine Baranski, typecast again thanks to that flawlessly bitchy face), is demanding her father's ashes be buried next to her mother, despite the fact that Arvilla knows he wanted to be scattered. On top of that, the old will also leaves Francine the house, and she's more than ready to unceremoniously yank it out from under Arvilla if the older woman doesn't comply.
So, flanked by her two closest friends, Margene (Kathy Bates, who as per usual is the sturdy one, in both frame and constitution) and Carol (Joan Allen, as a sheltered, fretful Mormon housewife), Arvilla embarks on a road trip in the deceased's convertible, going from Idaho to California, ashes in tow. Along the way, Arvilla wrestles with her grief and the promise she made to her husband while the women encounter typical road trip events like flat tires, handsome young hitchhikers, and gentlemanly truckers (a toothy, cheerful Tom Skerritt).
With a cast of seasoned professionals flexing their chops in some pretty familiar roles, it'd be hard to coax an outright turd out of this production, and Bonneville isn't one. These actors easily conjure warmth, sympathy, and well-timed chuckles, but the film still lacks the power that its moving parts seem capable of producing; its sad elements are far from devastating, and its madcap moments are merely temperate. It's a fine family outing, brought to you by actors who just seem to enjoy growing old in their careers.