A Walk In The Woods: Film Review
Cast: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson
Director: Ken Kwapis
As the saying goes, it's not the destination, but the journey you are on.
In this latest flick from renowned comedy director Ken Kwapis, Robert Redford plays celebrated travel writer Bill Bryson, who's back in America and struggling to decide what to do next in his career.
So, challenging himself, he decides to walk the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail which winds its way through America's wilderness, giving an unforgiving challenge to those who try it but soaring rewards to those who complete it. Under direction from his wife (Emma Thompson) to not walk the route alone, he tries to find a companion from his contact file, but all turn him down. On the eve of heading off, a blast from the past, Stephen Katz (played by an extremely grizzly Nick Nolte) calls and offers to be his companion.
Reluctantly, the two team up and head out on their adventure...
Extremely broad right from the start, and inexorably episodic, the adaptation of Bryson's memoir, A Walk In the Woods is a hybrid of The Odd Couple and Laurel and Hardy slapstick.
Heading for gently easy and predictable laughs, it's cleared skewed for an older generation, willing to forgive every contrivance possible as the film heads for its obvious destinations. No doubt the more astute will find themselves distracted at how clearly out of shape Katz is for the journey and how unprepared the duo are for the trek, but if you're willing to forego these fairly big shortcomings, you may find yourself lapsing into a blanket of feel-good buddy road trip movie fuzz rather than an incisive examination of what motivates us later in life.
It doesn't help that the route is littered with oddballs and quirky characters at every turn, though points have to be given to Flight of the Conchords star Kristen Schaal as an irritatingly "shoulda done this" hiker whom the pair try to lose.
While Redford and Nolte have a reasonable chemistry, they are somewhat stuck in a rut of Redford's Bryson being irritated by Katz' presence - it's likely to strike a chord with an older audience, looking to bask in the lighter tones of the film, rather than those seeking a harder watch. It lacks the resonance that Redford portrayed in All Is Lost, forsaking that for a more comic edge.
Entirely predictable and bordering on irritating in its final stretch as the pair's escalating screwball farce heads into slightly more reflective territory, how you feel about A Walk In The Woods may well depend on how you deal with its succession of bumbling and another fine mess you've got me in ethos. There's no denying its geniality, but you may find this is one hike you'd rather sit out.