Friday Movie Roundup: Emilio Estevez Edition

click to enlarge Emilio Estevez in 'The Breakfast Club'
Emilio Estevez in 'The Breakfast Club'

Emilio Estevez has been making movies nearly as far back as I can remember going to movies.

My first memories of Estevez date back to 1983's The Outsiders, in which he was but one of many young actor dudes (including but not limited to Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Matt Dillon) to grace Francis Ford Coppola's slick, black-and-white adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel. That was followed by Alex Cox's Repo Man, which I wouldn't see until several years after its 1984 theatrical release (when I was old enough to rent it for myself) and which probably stands, at this late date, as the best film with which Estevez has ever been associated.—-

But it was the one-two 1985 punch of John Hughes' The Breakfast Club and Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire that cemented Estevez's place in my movie-viewing childhood. It wasn't exactly that he or his characters were all that captivating in either movie; it was that each movie, with its coming-of-age dramas and earnest romanticism, somehow piqued my young, impressionable mind. Twenty-six years later I still have a soft spot for each, still can't turn the channel when either is on TV. (Then there's the fact that I, as a high-schooler, apparently looked just like Breakfast Club-era Estevez. In fact, one friend still calls me “Sporto” to this day.)

To say Estevez's post-’85 acting output has been underwhelming is an understatement (see Maximum Overdrive, Wisdom, Young Guns, Young Guns II, Freejack, The Mighty Ducks movies, etc. Or, better yet, don't see them). And, given that his acting career essentially ended after the third Ducks movie in 1996, he knows that fact as well as anyone.

Enter Emilio Estevez the director. Though his early directorial efforts were a case of way too much way too soon — at 25, he wrote, starred in (with then-girlfriend Demi Moore) and directed 1987's Wisdom, which was followed by 1990's Men at Work with his brother Charlie Sheen; Orson Welles Estevez is not — he has remained dedicated to his craft, in recent years throwing himself into television work between the release of his pet project, 2006's Bobby, a sprawling attempt at a Robert Altman-esque ensemble drama about the night Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Bobby didn't entirely work, but I admired its ambition.

Now comes The Way, which Estevez wrote, directed and even appears as an actor. I've yet to see The Way,which opens here today, but if the largely positive response to it is any indication, I'll be in line to check it out soon. (Read tt stern-enzi's interview with Estevez and Martin Sheen here.)

Welcome back, Sporto.

Opening films:

GAINSBOURG — Joann Sfar makes his directorial debut with this episodic, highly stylized biopic of French songwriter and singer Serge Gainsbourg (Eric Elmosnino, who is a dead ringer for the facially challenged artist). The cast also includes Laetitia Casta as Brigitte Bardot, Lucy Gordon as Jane Birkin and Anna Mouglalis as Juliette Gréco. (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — Jason Gargano (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN — While it doesn't live up to the quirky physical comedy the incomparable Rowan Atkinson is capable of, this follow-up to his 2003 spy spoof functions well enough as a worthy PG-rated comedy for kids. (Read full review here). (Opens wide Friday.) — Cole Smithey (Rated PG.) Grade: B-

THE MIGHTY MACS — Cara Gugino — whose career has featured a curious mishmash of projects, from big-budget Hollywood fare and television series to genre efforts and indie oddities — stars as Cathy Rush, the groundbreaking head coach who led the resource-challenged 1971-72 Immaculata College women's team to an NCAA championship. Tim Chambers directs a cast that also includes David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton and Ellen Burstyn. (Opens wide Friday.) — JG (Rated G.) Review coming soon.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 — The unexpectedly successful horror series continues with another reality-bending, home-video-captured tale, this one a 1988-set prequel directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the guys who gave us the creepy, reality-bending doc Catfish. Stars Katie Featherston and Sprague Greydon. (Opens wide Friday.) — JG (Rated R.) Review coming soon.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS — The fifth version of this story to hit the big screen is being described as a “steam-punk reinterpretation” of Alexandre Dumas' classic adventure novel. Uh, OK. Paul W.S. Anderson, the same man who gave us such distinctly un-distinctive genre efforts as Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil and Death Race 2, guides a cast that includes Milla Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and Mads Mikkelsen. Hey, it has to at least be better than the 1993 version, which featured Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O'Donnell. Right? (Opens wide Friday.) — JG (Rated PG-13.) Review coming soon.

THE WAY — Is it possible to make a movie about religious faith — why it works for some people, why it doesn’t for others — that explicates the matter in ways that anyone can appreciate, even if they don’t agree with it? Can a movie about spirituality be inclusive rather than divisive? Yes. Writer-director Emilio Estevez has pulled it off with his very powerful and deeply moving The Way. (Read full review here.) — (Opens today at Esquire Theatre.) — MaryAnn Johanson (Rated PG-13.) Grade: A