Hot Take: If you’re looking for the depth and insight of last year’s Wild, A Walk In The Woods will disappoint. If you want a better Grumpy Old Men, grab your pack and join Robert Redford and Nick Nolte on the Appalachian Trail.
Robert Redford and Nick Nolte bring travel writer Bill Bryson’s novel to life to close out the ’15 summer movie season. Redford as Bryson and Nolte as long lost former friend Stephen Katz decide (for their own barely discussed reasons) decide to tackle the roughly 2,200 mile trek from Georgia to Maine.
If anything, A Walk In The Woods benefits from timing (and not just Redford and Nolte’s comedic timing). With summer winding down and August filled with high paced, mindless action flicks not good enough for the key summer weeks, A Walk In The Woods comes across as refreshing and a welcome change of pace.
It’s hard to imagine this being an overwhelming critical success but it’s funny and well acted. At the same time, A Walk In The Woods is largely inoffensive and relatable.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Nolte Outshines Redford
Originally, Redford wanted to make A Walk In The Woods with Paul Newman. Unfortunately, due to Newman’s failing health and eventual death, it didn’t happen. Watching the movie, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Nolte in the role.
- This Isn’t Your Average Road Trip Movie… And That’s Not A Bad Thing
A Walk In The Woods has cartoonish moments but, in general, the absurdity is balanced with the subtlety of a nature walk.
- The Laughs Are Frequent (Especially Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen)
There were even a few laugh out loud moments which typically don’t happen in an empty theater (there were two audience members at the 9:50pm Wednesday showing).
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Creative License Has Its Pitfalls
In his novel, Bryson was in his 40s. Redford (as Bryson) is nearly 80. The Appalachian Trail isn’t for the feint of heart nor is it for the considerably out of shape. There are moments where it’s hard to believe either could have made it more than a day or two on the Trail.
- Speaking Of The Appalachian Trail…
The visually impressive shots of the Appalachian Trail are memorable but fleeting. Over the summer, I took a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway (a 469 mile stretch from Virginia to North Carolina). It’s an unforgettable drive. I can’t even imagine hiking it.
- Redford Occasionally Appears Less Animated Than His Natural Surroundings
Maybe it’s the shadow of Nolte’s overly animated character or the fact Redford is almost 80 but there are times when Redford is imitating one of the many trees of the Appalachian Trail they are walking along.