By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Earlier this year, when all that Charlie Sheen nonsense was coming to a head, if you’re anything like me you probably thought, “Hey, what about Martin’s other kid- you know- the strange one who uses his actual name, Emilio Estevez. Whatever happened to him?” Your hypothetical first guess, Mighty Ducks II, wasn’t a terrible one, but man, you need to get out more.
Everyone knows the series ended at Eden Hall Academy with the third installment
Well, it turns out Estevez has mostly left acting behind and is now carving out a pretty decent directing resume, including the underrated Bobby. His latest flick, The Way, appears to be a very personal one, and he even cast his father, Martin Sheen, in the starring role. It kicks off with a segment that confirms everything I’ve ever suspected about senior drivers. We’re introduced to Sheen’s character, an ophthalmologist, as he deals with an old woman who has memorized his eye charts, and claimed to have done so at the DMV as well. This is already the scariest movie I’ve seen this month.
The movie isn’t Adventures in Eye Care, though, as awesome as that would undoubtedly be. He leaves his comfortable white collar existence when his son, played by Emilio Estevez himself, of course, suffers an accident at the beginning of the Camino de Santiago (a pilgrimage from southern France to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. He goes there to take his son’s remains home, then decides to instead walk the trail himself, scattering his son’s ashes and endeavoring to gain an understanding of this man that he could never quite fathom.
The scenery and shot selection are beautiful, as you would hope for from a travel film, and the acting is very solid, let by Sheen channeling Jebediah Bartlett again, solidifying his status as the one actor I would vote for regardless of what comes out of his mouth.
It’d be a bit of a betrayal, but… Republicans?
What sets this film apart is the little things. From accurately capturing all of the charms of hostel living to small arguments about Spanish slang, this film immerses itself in its setting and brings it to life. We learn why Sheen’s son loved the thrill of always moving, always experiencing, along with him and grow to appreciate it just as he does. The sentiment produced by this movie is earned the hard way, and builds to a wholly satisfying conclusion true to the film and its characters.
Every. single. one. of the introductions we get to his traveling buddies is supremely irritating. We get fat Dutch comic relief guy, acid-spitting perpetual downer woman, and struggling Irish writer who may also have a secret meth habit dude. That there are able to grow their characters from there is a testament to the actors, not the script.
I’m fookin’ immortal, Sheen! I can run until the end of time!
The movie also falls into the trap of obvious emotional manipulations a few times. Generally it rolls through these deftly enough that it’s not too distracting, but a few pull you out of the nice vibe it has going. His friends’ parting lines/little bite size moral statements were terrible in any context.
Despite resorting to stereotypes and sentimentalism a bit too often, the true heart underlying this story always shows through. If you ever cry at movies, keep a few tissues handy for this one.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Sheen gets a stamp
Take a Drink: every time he drops some ashes
Take a Drink: for every Euro stereotype you spot