SYNOPSIS: Stuck in a liquor store during an alleged robbery, a group of strangers shares hidden truths and forms an unexpected bond on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Eve, a young man named Eric (Luke Grimes from Fifty Shades of Grey) drives into a small town, El Camino to look for his long-lost father. Before long, he gets himself acquainted with a single mother, Kate (Michelle Mylett) and her son. Things got messy when Eric gets mistaken for a drug dealer by two local cops, Billy (Dax Shepard) and a perpetually drunk Carl (Vincent D’ Onofrio). With a crazy, trigger-happy Carl hot on his heels, Eric ends up in a hostage situation with five other townies in a liquor store. Will Eric manage to escape from this dire situation and find his father before Christmas?
El Camino Christmas is touted as a dark comedy although I must assured you other than a few scenes of watching Dax Shepard’s character fumbling his ways as a dim-witted officer and moonlighting as a motel receptionist, there’s no indication of El Camino Christmas being a comedy of sorts. Shepard by the way reunites with his ChiPs’ co-star, D’ Onofrio although the two only share one single scene together.
It’s more of a tale of redemption and a gathering of an assortment of clichéd, stereotypical characters from the Mexican liquor storeowner, Vincente (Emilio Rivera) to the frustrating local sheriff (Kurtwood Smith) to the Vietnam veteran with a tortured past. It’s a gallery of interesting characters stuck in an uninteresting crime story. Of course at this point you know you are not watching Fargo or anything belonging to the gold standard set by the Coen brothers.
But all is not lost. Tim Allen stars as the prior mentioned Vietnam veteran with a tortured past, Larry Roth. It’s not that hard to guess who Allen is playing when Eric knocks on the door of Roth. For sure, Allen is not playing Santa Claus at least it’s a role that flexes his long-dormant acting muscles. Vincent D’ Onofrio is always a delight to watch even he is just mumbling his lines and acting crazy for most of the screentime. For those who miss Jessica Alba on the big screen, she is here in a thankless role as a pregnant TV reporter.
In the end, El Camino Christmas is a weird movie to watch. Despite the best intentions by the filmmakers, the entire flick simply doesn’t work. It’s a lousy balance of humour, action and drama. Certainly, it failed to entertain let alone a flick suitable for the holiday season.
Review by Linus Tee