My, my, aren't we getting old? In "Bonneville," one-time "King Kong" girl toy Jessica Lange plays the widow of a recently deceased 80-year-old.
Of course, she's a couple of decades younger than husband Joe was. In fact, that's sort of the point of the story.
Joe's daughter, Francine (Christine Baranski), who's about the same age as Arvilla (Lange), resents her father's wife, and the two get in a battle over the disposal of Joe's ashes. Arvilla wants to scatter them, as Joe requested; Francine wants them buried in Santa Barbara, "with the family." But Francine has leverage. Technically, she owns Arvilla's house, and if Arvilla doesn't cooperate with the disposal of Joe's remains, she'll sell the house out from under her stepmother.
Arvilla's two friends Margene ( Kathy Bates) and Carol ( Joan Allen) volunteer to go to Santa Barbara with her for moral support. They're supposed to fly, but they miss the plane, giving us the setup for the movie: a road trip from Idaho to Santa Barbara in an old Bonneville convertible.
It's "Thelma & Louise" — with all the shock value removed.
The three housewives have their adventures: Carol, a devout Mormon, learns to lighten up a bit; Margene has the romantic encounter she's been wanting; and Arvilla revisits the spots she and Joe saw on their honeymoon. Yawn, yawn.
Every once in a while, I see a movie and think: "I could have written that." That's never a good thing. A movie should be smarter, wittier, more surprising, than anything I could create.
It's certainly not for lack of star power that "Bonneville" fails to get revved up. There's a quiet grace to Lange's Arvilla. It's more that this story just never had enough gas in it start with. "Bonneville" should never have left the garage.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times