A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is a full-length feature film set in the time period immediately after the climactic, violent events that ended the five-season TV series Breaking Bad in 2013. With a short preface that sets up the hero's quest, the young man tries desperately to get out of Albuquerque, escaping from law enforcement as well as his own past misdeeds. As he moves from one dangerous situation to another, the tension heightens and the stakes get higher. Intercut with scenes set in the present are the hero's reflections on the two years preceding, which inform viewers of critical incidents that led him to this time and place. They also provide an opportunity for appearances by the celebrated series principals. As in the television show, suspense and violence are part of the fabric of the story. Viewers can expect gun battles, deaths, fights, and life-or-death moments, as well as evidence of past torture, beatings, and captivity. Intermittent swearing includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastards," "d--k," and "a--hole." Characters smoke marijuana and cigarettes, ingest cocaine, and drink beer. A group of prostitutes appears to service a gang of villains; no nudity or on-camera sexual activity. This movie, arriving six years after the series finale, will resonate strongly with old fans; it also works as a stand-alone story, puzzling perhaps, but still satisfying. No kids.
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What's the story?
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is desperate in EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE. On the run in New Mexico, disoriented, and completely alone after a fight to the death between drug traffickers and white supremacists (revealed in fragments throughout the film), Jesse must find a way to escape. His quest for money, resources, and a way out of Albuquerque finds him at the mercy of old friends, old enemies, and his own frailties. As his mind races between the present and the past, key moments reveal both the danger he's in now and the devastating events that led him to this moment. It's a painful and violent odyssey, and he has only the slimmest hope for a positive outcome.
Is it any good?
Vince Gilligan has done a masterful job of providing a final chapter for a series noted for its remarkable characters, great acting, vibrant story, and insightful take on good and evil. It's a seamless transition. Aaron Paul (with five Emmy nominations and three wins for the role) astonishes once again with his compelling and nuanced performance. It's satisfying to spend a little time with Bryan Cranston's Walter White, Krysten Ritter's Jane Margolis, and Jonathan Banks's Mike Ehrmentraut, and doubly pleasing to see Jesse Plemons and Robert Forster return in substantial roles that impact both the plot and Jesse Pinkham's evolution as a man who is deserving of our admiration. (Sadly, Forster passed away on the day of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie's Netflix release.) Recommended, especially for fans of the original.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Was it integral to the story or intended mostly to provide thrills? What are some cues that help clarify the filmmakers' intentions? Why is it important to be aware of the impact of violence on kids?
What is the meaning of the literary term "antihero?" In what ways is Jesse Pinkman an antihero? Were you rooting for him in spite of his earlier behavior? Do you believe that the character is redeemable by the end of the movie?
In spite of his past, what character strengths did Jesse Pinkman call upon to achieve his goals?
If you are a Breaking Bad fan, did this movie meet your expectations? What are some of the key elements (for example, characterizations, settings) that writer-director Vince Gilligan retained from the series to maintain its integrity?
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