Based on a touching true story but handled with a simplistic TV-movie approach, this soap opera jerks tears by treating Alzheimer's victims as lovable, loony stereotypes.
When Teddy Roosevelt (Alex Morris) dies, he leaves his widow Jordan (Cicely Tyson) destitute, and bequeaths his only asset--the heavily mortgaged homestead--to their son Marcus (James Daniels). Marcus, who plans to unload the property, invites Jordan to come live with his family. Encouraged by
her blind friend Sally (Starletta Dupois), the feisty Jordan defies her son, stalls the property's sale and starts training as a caregiver for Alzheimer's patients. Merely scraping by with payment from her first live-in patient Gayle (Sally Ellis), resolute Jordan takes on more than she can handle
with Julia Archer (Tess Harper), an embittered alcoholic in the disease's early stages, and Wanda Kirkman (Piper Laurie) a prejudiced, motor-mouthed grande dame whose son can no longer care for her.
Alternating tough love with tender loving care, Jordan can't make her managed-care facility a going concern. Wanda steals Julia's journal, and Julia drunkenly trashes the premises to locate it. She also starts a costly fire on a neighbor's property.
Faced with ruin, Jordan decides to drive with her boarders to Galveston, a dream trip she never got to take with her spouse. Despite alarming everyone's relatives with the impromptu journey, Jordan revives the women's spirits; Wanda is even reunited with former beau Christopher (Clarence Williams
Jr.). Proud of his mother's spunk, Marcus changes his mind about supporting her bid for independence. With his assistance, Jordan hangs onto her farm as an Alzheimer's care facility.
Aiming for some of the geriatric-brotherhood elan of the classic DRIVING MISS DAISY (1989), THE ROAD TO GALVESTON is above-average melodrama. The problem with such tearjerkers is predictability and the inadvertent dishonesty that requires calamities that might have given pause to Job to be worked
out triumphantly. This is a contradiction in terms for any serious treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. In order to tie a shiny ribbon around the movie's ending, the illness displayed must be written shallowly and played eccentrically.
Movies this formula-driven rise and fall on their performances; this ROAD TO GALVESTON is not without its bumps in that regard. Tyson and Dupois are believably proud and gutsy, so that the racial harmony aspect of the script works best. At the other end of the spectrum, Harper chews up the scenery
as if it were impossible to convey anguish with underplaying. The usually splendid Laurie tackles the most challenging role, but her prattling reveries don't acquire pathos; the actress's built-in directness goes against the grain of this genteel lost soul's floundering state. Good intentions
smoothly pave THE ROAD TO GALVESTON, however, and it provides ample crying jags for those predisposed to victory-over-adversity tearjerkers. (Adult situations, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Based on a touching true story but handled with a simplistic TV-movie approach, this soap opera jerks tears by treating Alzheimer's victims as lovable, loony stereotypes. When Teddy Roosevelt (Alex Morris) dies, he leaves his widow Jordan (Cicely Tyson) d… (more)