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Branson Family Trip

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Reviewed on 2008-03-06
Received[2.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreComedy / Drama
Three middle-aged Mormon women (Oscar winners Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates plus three-time nominee Joan Allen) travel the back roads from Pocatello to Santa Barbara. The title refers to the vintage cherry red convertible that transports these three ladies decked out in sunglasses and scarves.

The reason behind this pilgrimage across the great American West is to deliver the ashes of one of their dead husbands to a resentful stepdaughter (Christine Baranski). Lange plays the recently bereaved widow who is accompanied by her two best friends. Although married for 20 years, her husband never made a new will. His daughter from a previous marriage will inherit the house in Idaho where they lived. The return of the ashes is the bargaining chip for relinquishing the rights to the homestead.

Lange carries herself with grace and dignity throughout this grief-stricken ordeal. She still has the golden touch in the acting department.

Her two gal pals are complete opposites and help balance the emotional equation. Allen is a straight-laced prude who is devoted to her husband. She likes things neat and tidy. Her prim and proper behavior is guided by the Golden Rule. She lets her hair down in Las Vegas when exposed to gambling and alcohol.

Bates is a sassy, down-to-earth widow looking for another bite of the romance apple. She is attracted to a rugged gentleman trucker (Tom Skerritt). Her wisecracking remarks deliver the biggest laughs.

These three classy dames permeate the screen with a wonderful sense of camaraderie. The audience is gladly willing to make an emotional investment in their characters.

This leisurely paced journey of rediscovery, keeping promises and ultimately letting go is enhanced by the breathtaking natural scenery. The Utah filming locations include the Bonneville Salt Flats, Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell and Skull Valley.

This life-affirming movie is wholesome and touching with just the right amount of tenderness. It offers hope, faith and a sense of humor to ease the pain of losing a loved one. It is refreshing to have a movie catering to older audiences that is free of sex, profanity, drugs and violence.

Review By:
Keith Cohen, The Movie Guy

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