El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

When Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan spun off the show’s charmingly dissolute counsel and  infomercial chiseler, Saul Goodman, it was a natural fit. After all, the glib litigator stole every seen he was in, thanks to Bob Odenkirk.

However, with El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Gilligan had his work cut for him: building an epilogue around perma-scowl ne’er-do-well Jesse Pinkman, a dimwit brought to life as foil for Walter White, who couldn’t have existed without him — all id to White’s superego.

With this sequel and coda to the Breaking Bad series, Pinkman is on the lam playing catch me if you can, having busted loose from the Brotherhood’s razor-wire meth compound, and leading the 6 O’Clock news in Albuquerque with his drug dealer exploits.

He briefly meets up with larrikin buds Badger and Skinny Pete for a new ride, shave and a shower before he’s off trying to track down Ed Galbraith, the fixer/Saul Goodman contact who give cons new identities and helps ferret them out of town.

In El Camino Gilligan plays to Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) “do now, ask questions later,” impulsivity (call it a strength if you must).

Gilligan crafts a film noir “what to do with all this money?” set up, which careens like Badger’s Pontiac Fiero.

Flashbacks to Pinkman’s captivity, plus tête-à-têtes with Walter White and Mike Ehrmantrout help keep things chugging along, but it’s those characters’ small roles that underscore just how big and vital these were to developing Jesse Pinkman. With the White sit-down particularly, the sparks fly as the ex-mentor presses his charge, Jesse, about what major he’d choose if the unlikely college candidate were to choose that route. It turns out, business with a focus on marketing, and White suggests he could teach these.

In El Camino, these wordy exchanges are lacking, perhaps because of time constraints, in a format that doesn’t lend itself to them, but that’s what made Breaking Bad so charming in the first place.

***1/2 (out of 5)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

“Freddy delivers” the poster says. Pizza, or babies? It’s the latter here, as evil as obstetrician Cosby turned out to be in real life.

Freddy’s not dead in this fifth installment, so you can forget the Curtis Mayfield song. In A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child he’s sprightly and revivified.

The Springwood Slasher’s worst quipping excesses are tempered, and what you get is leaner and decidedly meaner than the predecessor, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. A welcome sign.

The opener’s gangbusters. There’s a woman in a shower, and she sees a gurgling in the drain. Instead of snaking it or calling in a reputable plumber, she reaches into the brown goo, which gurgles to the surface as a geyser. Next thing she knows, the shower is full of water and she’s gasping. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 immediately plays with the twin fears of closed spaces and drowning.  It’s a terrific updating of The Master’s Psycho scene, and sets a tone for a film that while somewhat uneven, is better than it’s been given credit for.

Alice (Lisa Wilcox) is pregnant. And having sleep issues. And the bogeyman with the striped sweater is haunting not her dreams, but those of the child she’s carrying.

Call ’em what you will…a baby…a fetus…NOES 5 asks a question that’s a bit like Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, with “do unborn babies dream?” They certainly do. Science tells us that after seven months in the womb, the rest of the time is spent in dreamland. This is by brain wave inference.

That’s as explosive and interesting a conceit as the Nightmare on Elm St series has seen, and if you’re on board with this baby, you’ll have a helluva good time.

Sure, some of the secondary characters have tertiary personalities, but that’s often par for the course for slashers.

While not reaching the transcendent heights of Dream Warriors or the first flick, this one is a surprisingly solid effort. Don’t let the 5.1 on IMDb sway you.

*** (out of 5)

[Listen to our take on The Dream Child on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]