But with his new movie "The Way," Estevez comes into his own as a producer, writer, and director, telling a beautiful story about death, faith and family. A father -- played by his own father, Martin Sheen -- mourns the loss of his son by walking for months on the 500-mile "camino" to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.<p>In an interview on the Catholic cable channel EWTN, Estevez joked about the horror of making the pitch for this movie about a pilgrimage -- no massive special effects, no parade of gore or bedroom scenes with nudity. It's just an old man hiking across Spain with three people he meets along the way. It's a small movie, made on a small budget. It's about our humanity and our spirituality. It's so easy to imagine Tinseltown's eyes glazing over.
But what Estevez said in that interview was still striking. "Hollywood is a very difficult place to be earnest and be heartfelt. And I am not interested in making films that are anything but. There's a lot of vulgarity in films. There's a lot of violence, casual sex -- things that make me uncomfortable watching -- and I'm not interested in perpetuating that message."
It must be difficult making that statement when your brother is Charlie Sheen.
A look at the highest-grossing movies of 2011 strongly suggests that lots of fighting with special effects and sequels are what the public wants. Go down the list: the "Harry Potter" finale, a "Transformers" sequel, a "Fast and the Furious" sequel, a "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel, a "Planet of the Apes" sequel of sorts, a Thor movie and a Captain America movie. The only comedies are both vulgar and R-rated: "The Hangover, Part II" and "Bridesmaids," which was surely sold to the studio as "The Hangover, Chick Version." Even the year's top cartoons are sequels: "Cars 2," in sixth place, and "Kung Fu Panda 2," eleventh. Estevez looks at the number-12 movie "The Help," as his kind of film, one that shows that simple movies about human relationships can find an audience. "I think we have a responsibility as artists, and if we live in that community, and we work in that community, we have a responsibility to lift it up and to raise the bar and to reject that."