The Way

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Way Movie Poster Image
Touching movie filled with mature themes, grief, drinking.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The Way stresses the healing and inspirational power of travel, friendship, and life's simplest pleasures. "You don't choose a life, you live one."

Positive Role Models & Representations

No heroes or villains here -- just ordinary people with lives in progress. This is a positive story about growth, transforming yourself, and respect for others. Flawed and/or struggling characters are shown coming to terms with their own weaknesses, anger, and selfishness. The generosity and open-heartedness of a distant culture (in this case Spanish villagers) is portrayed throughout. 


The main character is forcibly escorted to a police station after drunkenly resisting police officers. In other action scenes, he scuffles with a woman, and she slaps him; he also jumps in a turbulent river to retrieve his backpack, and he chases a young thief.


In the background of one scene, a man is wearing a thong.


Occasional swearing: "ass," "piss," "hell," "son of a bitch," "Christ," and "crap."


The North Face brand is visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes show weary travelers drinking wine at the end of each day, usually along with a meal. One sequence finds the main character getting very drunk, behaving badly, and ultimately being taken to the police station because of his conduct. A traveler from Holland frequently uses marijuana and offers it (as well as sleeping aids) to others on the journey. A woman smokes cigarettes heavily and talks about the need to quit.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Way -- a drama about a father's grief after his grown son is accidentally killed during a journey in Europe -- isn't likely to have much appeal for younger kids or tweens. The subject matter is mature, the action much more internal than external, and the pace is deliberate and reflective. Lots of wine is consumed during meals in the Spanish villages in which the story is set. One scene shows the drunken hero being taken to jail after a loud, angry rant. A principal character frequently smokes marijuana and offers it to his companions. Cigarette smoking is pervasive. A female reveals that she reluctantly "terminated" a pregnancy some years earlier.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBBGum February 16, 2020

I dont really know

I saw this movie when I was 6, 7 or 8 with my grandma. I found it weird, and didn’t understand some things, while others I found sad. I would watch it without y... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydkasal000 April 3, 2016


Very good movie and inspiring and fun but a little to long

What's the story?

Stunned and saddened to learn that his only son has been accidentally killed while traveling in Europe, Tom Avery (Martin Sheen), a widower and successful doctor in California, flies to France to attend to take custody of the body. Tom and Daniel (Emilio Estevez) had been semi-estranged since Daniel quit graduate school to see the world and live a different life from that of his dad. When the heartbroken Tom arrives, he learns that Daniel had died at the beginning of a pilgrimage along the historical Way of St. James (Camino del Santiago), which stretches from France to the Atlantic Ocean across 800 kilometers of Northern Spain. Alone, embittered, and driven, Tom takes Daniel's ashes and vows to complete his son's odyssey. THE WAY follows that trek with Tom as he meets three distinctive fellow travelers and experiences a country, a people, and a way of life that may enable him to heal and fully bond with the son he loved.

Is it any good?

This touching film is marked by heartfelt performances from Sheen and a stellar cast. This, along with an inventive, sentiment-free story and the unforgettable beauty of the Way of St. James and the villages and countryside it passes, results in a profoundly affecting experience. Estevez has written and directed a film that feels natural, unforced, and authentic; he takes his time, with lots of it spent on character and the unhurried maturation of its leading man. But The Way is never preachy or slow.

Attention is paid to some of the sacred artifacts and churches along the road, but the movie is more inspiring than religious. Overall, The Way is an engaging film for parents and thoughtful teens that may encourage meaningful discussion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Tom Avery's journey. What did he learn about his son? What did he learn about himself? Do you think focusing on his physical trip is an effective way to tell the story of his emotional journey?

  • How does The Way portray the cultural role of alcohol use, specifically wine, in the Spanish villages of the story? How is it different from what you see in stories set in the United States?

  • How does this movie deal with stereotypes?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

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