A Walk in the Woods

"Very Good"

A Walk in the Woods Review


Echoing his witty writing style, Bill Bryson's memoir of his trek up the Appalachian Trail is adapted as a gently amusing comedy that combines big landscapes with sharp observational humour. Even though it centres on two old men, the film's message is almost identical to Reese Witherspoon's Wild, except that this movie never preaches at all. Instead, it meanders along with a wry smile and an ear for a snappy punchline.

Bill (Robert Redford) has moved back to America with his English wife Catherine (Emma Thompson) after living in Britain for 20 years. And now he feels the need to reconnect with his homeland. So he decides to hike the 2,100-mile mountain path from Georgia to Maine. Catherine insists that he takes someone with him, but the only volunteer is Katz (Nick Nolte), a wheezing ex-alcoholic with whom Bill deliberately lost touch. Even so, they set off on their walk, having a series of small adventures as they meet other hikers (including the hilariously too-perky Kristen Schaal), flirt with a hotel owner (Mary Steenburgen) and get into a bit of trouble when Katz has a romp with a married woman (Susan McPhail). They also encounter a couple of grizzly bears and find themselves trapped overnight on a narrow mountain ledge.

The question obviously isn't whether or not they complete the epic trek. No, this is a film about how self-discovery continues into old age, and so does the ability to discover new things in the world. Director Ken Kwapis makes the most of the picturesque landscapes, while including superb details that make the journey come to life. Although there are several sequences that were obviously shot in a studio with a fake backdrop and green-screen vistas. And some of the events along the way are badly contrived, dipping into silly slapstick. On the other hand, the running conversation between these two long-time friends is priceless.

Redford and Nolte make a surprisingly engaging double-act, bouncing off each other with impeccable timing and never being afraid to act their age. Redford looks amazing for 79, playing the 64-year-old Bryson, who was 46 when he took this hike. At 74, Nolte seems older. Both of them also spark terrific chemistry with the characters they meet along the way. And they refuse to allow any sentimentality to creep into the movie, undercutting everything with a snappy joke. So the deeper meaning emerges subtly, encouraging us to think about the importance of dropping out of the rat race from time to time just to catch our breath. And maybe to get some inspiration for what's to come.

by Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for A Walk In The Woods here:




A Walk in the Woods

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedies

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd September 2015

Distributed by: Broad Green Pictures

Production compaines: Wildwood Enterprises, Route One Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 54

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Bill Holderman, Chip Diggins

Starring: as Bill Bryson, as Stephen Katz, as Catherine Bryson, as REI Dave, as Mary Ellen, Chrystee Pharris as Ticket Agent, Sandra Ellis Lafferty as Widow Deborah, Hayley Lovitt as Donna, Derek Krantz as Young Hiker #2, Andrew Vogel as Young Hiker #1, Linds Edwards as Darren, R. Keith Harris as Sam Bryson, John Kap as Bealuh's Husband, as Jeannie, as TV Host, Susan McPhail as Beulah, Gaia Wise as Becca, Tucker Meek as Grandson, Chandler Head as Granddaughter, John Schmedes as Gene, Danny Vinson as Georgia Cab Driver, Valerie Payton as Waitress Raynette, Stephanie Astalos-Jones as Georgia Mountain Waitress

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