The road to tedium is paved with good intentions when three old friends in a cherry-red 1966 convertible embark on a voyage of self-discovery that begins in Pocatello, Idaho, and ends in Santa Barbara, California. Arvilla (Lange) shared 20 great years of love and adventure with her husband, Joe, and promised him that she’d scatter his ashes after his death. But Francine (Baranski), the fiercely coiffed spawn of Joe’s first marriage, wants her daddy buried next to his first wife in California. Since Joe was careless about details like updating wills, the house he and Arvilla shared is now Francine’s. If Arvilla fails to bring Joe home, Francine will sell it. So with best friends Margene (Bates) and Carol (Allen), respectively sassy and uptight, in tow, Arvilla heads west in Joe’s prized Pontiac Bonneville, making a series of sentimental stopovers at sites ranging from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree.
While it’s a pleasure to see seasoned American actresses d’un certain âge accorded center stage, it’s sad to see their hard-won bona fides squandered on such pap. Bonneville is Thelma & Louise minus the menace, poisonous sexism, and cold-eyed awareness that the open road’s perils and rewards are different for girls.