I spent the first morning of my staycation watching the TV movie version of “The Trip to Bountiful” that premiered on Lifetime over the weekend, which I recorded on my DVR. This particular version is translated for TV from the recent Broadway production starring Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams, who both reprise their roles here. Tyson won a Tony for Best Actress in a Play in 2013 for her performance as Carrie Watts. Blair Underwood takes over the role of Ludie Watts from Cuba Gooding, Jr. who played it on Broadway.
The story revolves around the character Carrie Watts who is an old woman with health problems who has long ago left the small town she grew up in to live with her son Ludie and his wife Jessie Mae. Jessie Mae and Carrie do not get along at all, and Carrie longs for nothing more than to return to see the town of Bountiful before she dies. Every month when her pension check comes she tries to take it and use the money to sneak away, something that she is finally able to do and is a journey they will all remember.
I have never seen a stage production of the show before, but I have distinct memories of going to see the original movie version, which was released in 1986 and starred John Heard and Geraldine Page, who won an Oscar for her role as Carrie Watts. I remember going to see this movie with my grandmother and I think my great-aunt while we were vacationing with family in Hilton Head, SC. I don’t remember if my mother or my sister were with us, but I would guess they probably were. I have no idea why in the world this is a movie we went to see when I would have only been about 8 years old. Maybe it was the only PG movie playing or it was just something my grandmother really wanted to see. It certainly isn’t anything I would expect an 8 year old to like or not be completely bored by. Certainly having seen the original movie again as an adult and now having watching this new version I would never think to show it to a little kid. Yet, I very much remember liking the movie even as a small child and often thought about it over the years. I have no idea why I would have liked it at that young age, or what struck me about it but obviously something did.
I enjoyed this new version, and imagine the stage production of it would be great. However, I don’t think any production of it will be able to live up to memories of the 1986 movie version because of the nostalgia that surrounds it for me. It’s a lovely little play or movie no matter what version you watch though, so I would recommend it.