* (out of four)
This stunningly earnest travel piece was written and directed by Emilio Estevez, who co-stars with his father, Martin Sheen. It should have been reserved for Estevez family gatherings only.
Sheen plays Tom (an eye doctor who must learn to see for himself—groan), who walks the 500-mile El Camino de Santiago from France through Spain after his only son Daniel (Estevez) dies during his first day on the trek. Too bad Estevez forgets to add any danger or conflict to Tom’s rather easy journey, unintentionally suggesting that Daniel’s death could only have been caused by carelessly tip-toeing the edge of a mountain when he was pushed by a stiff breeze.
Tom strolls around spreading Daniel’s ashes and acquiring very, very basic knowledge such as the difference between tapas and pintxos. The film also turns embarrassingly “The Wizard of Oz”-esque when Tom picks up a ragtag crew of international travelers (including a goofy Dutchman, a salty Canadian and an Irish ball of energy) with their own emotional holes to fill, only to go through trials that teach them nothing and provide no catharsis.
Some scene-setting European music would at least take advantage of the location, but Estevez instead includes songs that either sound like or really were part of the “Garden State” soundtrack. Early on Daniel actually tells Tom, “You don’t choose a life, Dad; you live one,” which fairly represents the level of depth that Estevez brings to a movie whose overall philosophy is basically, “Life, man. Travel, man. Whoa.”
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