A capsule review. I don’t think this contains spoiler alerts, as there’s nothing more to spoil.
The latest Sheen/Estevez family project, The Way, is gorgeously filmed, but I’ve seen deeper ABC Afterschool Specials. The tale of an older man who ends up hiking the Camino de Santiago from France through Basque land and across northern Spain after his son is accidentally killed on his own solo walk could have been ripe with metaphor and meaning, but here is rendered as trite as pre-teen love song lyrics.
Martin Sheen, James Nesbitt, Debra Kara Unger, and Yorick van Wageningen do the best they can as the trekkers on the trail, but Sheen’s son, Emilio Estevez, has crafted a script so sophomoric, the best actor on earth couldn’t salvage this movie. Every stereotype is here – the blocked writer with a novel in him; the fat, self-indulgent druggie from Amsterdam; the angry, defensive, slightly slutty woman who was battered in a previous relationship, who insists upon calling Sheen’s character “Boomer” although she doesn’t seem significantly younger than he. Estevez even had to throw in an anti-abortion public service announcement as vapid as the rest of the dialogue: “I terminated my little girl. Sometimes I still hear her voice. I didn’t want the bastard beating on both of us.” Yet another opportunity for genuine pathos, rendered pathetic.
I confess that I missed five minutes of the movie. I never, ever, ever leave in the middle of a film to use the restroom, but when the noble Gypsy father of the Roma boy who stole Sheen’s character’s backpack came a callin’, uttering clichés in a horrible accent and broken English, I couldn’t bear it any longer. If you don’t get enough turkey for Thanksgiving, take the family to see this movie. Or better yet, stay home and look at photos of the Camino de Santiago on the web.