The Way: Martin Sheen treks the Camino de Santiago

I’m often skeptical when Hollywood forays into the realm of ‘travel films’.

Don’t get me wrong; there have been some wonderful movies in recent years that capture the true essence of the world of travel & the beauty of venturing on a grand journey: Lost in Translation, Into the Wild, L’Auberge Espagnole, Before Sunrise, Up in the Air, and The Beach (did you really think I wouldn’t mention it?) are just a few examples of travel narratives done right.

But those successes aren’t enough to stop the certain feeling of dread I get whenever I learn that Hollywood has again attempted to tackle the travel theme. Perhaps certain blasphemies like Sex & the City 2 or the recent rendition of Gulliver’s Travels keep this fear alive every time I shell out $11 to go on a two-hour cinematic adventure.

That being so, when I first heard about The Way; a film directed and developed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen, I expected the worst. An adventure film produced on the magical wings of nepotism? Sounded like the perfect storm.

But Wednesday night’s New York City premiere in partnership with the Walkabout Foundation promised a dazzling list of A-listers (Former President Bill Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Dhani Jones, Wyclef Jean, & the Sheens, among others) and promised to benefit a good cause, so I packed my cynicism away for a few hours and decided to see the film.


So, is it worth the trek to the theater? Click on through to find out.

The Way is the story of a Tom (Martin Sheen), a father that loses his intrepid son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez) as Daniel sets out in the French Pyrenees on a solo journey along the historic Camino De Santiago. Devastated by the loss and desperate for a way to reconcile their distanced relationship, Sheen’s character decides to embark on the Camino himself, carrying his son’s ashes every step of the way.

In brief, the Camino De Santiago (or the Way of St. James) is a 500-mile trail that starts in France and ends near the Northwest tip of Spain. It was first trekked in the 9th Century by pilgrims hoping to visit the remains of the Apostle St. James upon their initial discovery. In the early days, it was an arduous undertaking; weather, meager provisions, and difficult terrain all took their toll on the dedicated peregrinos. But by the 14th Century, it’s estimated that 25% of all Europeans walked the Camino and today, over 200,000 hikers complete the pilgrimage every year; for many different reasons.

Through Tom’s journey and the friends he makes on the trail, a very poignant illustration of the Camino De Santiago is presented; the beauty of the environment is vivid, the community among pilgrims is familiar to anyone that’s bonded with strangers on the road, and over the course of the film, the mood of sun drenched afternoons walking, eating, and drinking through the Spanish countryside is tangible. The characters all feel genuine and there’s enough clever humor throughout to make the film a fun adventure to be a part of.

One of the best parts of the film is that the story feels real; from a traveler’s perspective, it’s relatable and stays true to its roots of telling the story of the Camino. It strays from the typical over-dramatized treatment that Hollywood loves and instead tells a very real story that will resonate with many people who have trekked the Camino & anyone that’s ever ventured on a journey to cope with a personal battle. For this reason, I think it joins some of the other great travel narratives as a movie that’s definitely worth seeing for those interested in adventure.

The Way succeeds in staying true as a travel story partially because of how it was produced; Estevez insisted that the crew was never larger than 50 people (including actors), a large part of the film was shot on the go using a versatile Super 16mm setup, and the actors actually hiked a good portion of the Camino throughout the course of production.

In all, I give The Way 4 out of 5 St. James’s Shells. It opens for a limited release in theaters today and a wide release on October 21st. So long as you don’t have to make a pilgrimage of your own to go see it, give The Way a second look this weekend.

Gading Movie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

We don’t talk about movies much here at Gadling (though we make exceptions when it comes to OnDemand and George Clooney). Recently, however, we were captivated by the trailer for a travel film that left us ready to camp outside our local theater. When a travel film like this comes along, it’s hard for us not to sit up and take notice. And this past weekend, that movie finally hit theaters and demanded our attention. That movie? None other than Hot Tub Time Machine. “But it’s not a travel movie,” you say? Well, it’s called “time travel” not “time staying in one place.” Time travel is the ultimate trip. Rather than just looking at a map and selecting your next destination, you have the entirety of history (and, theoretically, the future) at your fingertips. So, with the excitement of time travel piquing our interest and 80s nostalgia luring us in, we caught a matinee (hey, movie tickets are expensive) of Hot Tub Time Machine over the weekend so that we could share our thoughts with you.

Is it worth your entertainment dollar? Does it capture the zeitgeist of travel? Did we laugh a lot? Keep reading to find out.The film stars 80s movie veteran John Cusack, The Daily Show alum and comedic spitfire Rob Corddry and The Office’s scene stealing Craig Robinson as three old friends who have drifted apart since their heyday in the decade of decadence. Joining them is young Clark Duke, who plays Cusack’s character’s nephew. After Corddry’s character ends up in the hospital, the friends reunite for a weekend bender in their formerly favorite (and now dilapidated) ski town. And, as you probably know by now from the trailer, they end up in a hot tub that is way more than just a seedy, bubbly cauldron of sin.

Where HTTM excels is in its commitment to simplicity. There’s no techno-jargon or flux capacitor. If you’re looking for explanations of the space-time continuum, you’ve purchased tickets to the wrong movie. The writers have basically decided that some movies take place in New York and others take place in the past. The 1980s serve as the location and getting there is less important than what happens there. And, as a comedy, this is a fantastic strategy. Rather than ask the audience to believe a sci-fi explanation of time travel, just get to the punchlines.

And there are plenty of punchlines. Without going over the top with nostalgic 80s references, the film captures the mood of the decade (and the campy comedies that it birthed) through great costumes, classic music and sly references (Karate Kid fans should pay attention throughout). The 80s jokes never have a chance to get old as the dialogue is just clever enough to keep you engaged in the characters. And with a classic (some might say clichéd) storyline centered around missed opportunities and friendships, the plot is an ode to many of the movies that made Cusack famous.

Sure, the film slows down a bit in the second act, but it wraps things up well before you have a chance to get bored. Despite it’s campy title, it’s actually a more subdued comedy than The Hangover. HTTM keeps things simple, starting with its title and continuing through its jokes. But simple isn’t bad. Simple is classic. Just like the 80s.

We’re giving Hot Tub Time Machine 4 chlorine tablets (out of 5). It’s a fantastic comedy and a genuine travel movie. Hot Tub Time Machine is rated R and currently playing in theaters nationwide.