In the fictional small town of El Camino, Nevada, a young man named Eric Roth (Luke Grimes) arrives in town on Christmas Eve to seek out his father (Tim Allen) that he has never met. El Camino Christmas displays over-used themes such as, a corrupt police force, a hostage situation, and a drunk father who has never met his son, which all fail in their potential and came across as forced and poorly executed. With poor writing and an out-of-whack storyline, this movie is not worth the time, nor will it put you in the Christmas spirit. It was a very slow movie, but I kept watching because there were points when I expected it to pick up only to be continually let down.
The Netflix original movie, El Camino Christmas, was directed by David E. Talbert and stars Tim Allen, Luke Grimes (Into The Wild), Dax Shepard, Kurtwood Smith (That 70’s Show), Jessica Alba, and Vincent D’Onofrio. While it isn’t necessarily an Oscar-winning cast, the cast itself is at least respectable, and had potential to deliver a great movie, however, this below-average movie was the product of bad writing, not performances. The acting itself was believable, but the actors were put in roles that took them nowhere.
The disjointed Christmas flick begins with Eric Roth knocking on the door of the apartment that he believes to be his long-lost father’s. An older shabby looking man (Tim Allen) opens the door and is rather belligerent towards Eric. Eric asks if his dad lives there, but the man claims to know nothing of his whereabouts. On the way to his car, the man stops Eric and tells him that he does know something about his father and says he will tell Eric the story as long as he buys him a beer. The two guys go out for a beer and Eric ends up leaving after the man gets drunk and never tells the story. Eric is then arrested after police find a bag of marijuana left in his car by the man. He is wrongfully taken to jail where two police officers beat him for a confession. The one officer, Carl, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, finds pleasure in beating Eric, but the other officer, Billy, played by Dax Shepard, pleads with his partner to stop. Officer Billy then leaves the jail cell open so that Eric can escape. Eric is then chased by Carl, who is trying to shoot him and the plot comes to a climax when all our main characters end up together at a gas station in a fake hostage situation. This is the point in the movie where I became lost.
At first, the movie starts with this great story about Eric searching for the dad he has never met. It is a familiar theme, but one that is usually satisfying to the audience. It appears the movie will center around this plot, and for the most part it does, however, it does poorly. But then the movie also introduces us to a young single mom who works at a gas station. This appears to provide another chance for an interesting character development, but for whatever reason falls flat with disappointment. The same goes for Jessica Alba’s character as a pregnant news reporter, Beth Flowers. Because it was Jessica Alba playing the role, I figured that this character would have major importance due to her status as an actress, but I was wrong. Her character is the first one on the scene at the hostage situation, but again the inclusion of her in the plot just seemed off balanced. At the end of the movie, she starts to go into labor while giving a news report and it is totally random and has no purpose.
It was obvious what Netflix was trying to accomplish with this movie. They put together a bunch of currently popular movie themes and tried to make a Christmas movie out of it. The cast was recognizable, but the writing was disappointing due to its lack of character development. It was cute to see Tim Allen back in a Christmas movie after being in The Santa Clause franchise, but his role just missed the mark. El Camino Christmas had the actors and structure of a good plot, but never developed into the holiday movie that I was expecting, and left me flat out disappointed.