'The Way' is not this way

November 4, 2011 

Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, The Way casts real-life dad, Martin Sheen, as Tom.

He’s a middle-aged dentist with a structured, ordered life. Tom is driven, successful and doesn’t understand his free-spirit son. After you sow a few wild oats, you settle down, go to college, become a professional and join regular society.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

It’s not the life for Tom’s son. He wants to travel, see the world, experience all life has to offer. One stop on his travels is Spain, where he wants to walk the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. It’s a several hundred-mile pilgrimage where one is supposed to find something of personal spiritual significance.

The walk never happens. Tom’s son dies in a freak storm. Devastated, Tom goes to Spain to retrieve the body. On a whim, Tom decides to walk the walk. Along the way he meets and eventually befriends people making the same trek for different reasons.

The Way almost immediately loses its way and sends you on your own quest. Yours is to determine Tom’s quest. Sheen’s character can’t really define why he’s marching. Honoring the dead kid? Finishing what his less-than-beloved son started? Trying to connect with his son in a mystical way? Why Tom is on the trip is a mystery to his new acquaintances. He won’t share it with them. It’s not shared with us either.

Come in late and you might think Sheen is playing a man on a grueling hike with a major case of constipation. He marches. He sleeps. He’s grouchy. No deep, revealing conversation. No meaningful dialogue. March. Sleep. Grouchy. That’s it.

Worse, in the end, even though Tom eventually thaws, Estevez’s screenplay doesn’t give you the big payoff needed to make The Way a path worth taking.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Nov. 4 at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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