Celebrated travel author Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) returns to America after living a decade in England.
In an attempt to reunite with his homeland and hopefully inspire himself, he decides to hike the Appalachian Trail, all 2,180 miles of it. He’s pushing 70 years of age.
His wife (Emma Thompson) and family think he’s lost his mind, as do all of Bryson’s friends except Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), an estranged friend that Bryson hadn’t spoken to since they were young men. Katz joins Bryson on his adventure, taking A Walk in the Woods, hoping to put some time and distance between him and his inevitable past catching up with him.
We say, “It’s a tidy, fun little film about nothing in particular.”
TAYLOR: This is like any other film in which an inexperienced woodsman bites off more than he can chew, but adds an “odd couple” aspect. There are moments of levity, quite a few laughs, no real message, except perhaps for “life is meant to be lived.”
I don’t know how old Bryson was when he went on this trek, but Redford is 76. I thought, much like Bryson’s relatives did, “Is this guy crazy?” However, Nick Nolte makes Redford look like an Ironman.
Nolte, at 74, is completely believable as a man who has no business hiking in the woods.
HOWE: Redford and Nolte certainly are an odd couple as you put it, but it seemed to work and work well. A Walk in the Woods isn’t flashy, nor does it have mega-buck special effects, what it does have is a refreshing look at life and a smattering of comedy. I laughed good and hard a few times. The film is getting a bit of a battering by the critics and I don’t understand why, it’s fun, it’s entertaining, and kept me entertained the entire time.
TAYLOR: Oh well, what do critics know? A Walk in the Woods is a cinematic stroll, it’s pretty quiet, very light (even in its darker moments) and completely banal. Yet in that banality is a universality. I think everyone, regardless of their culture or age, can appreciate the concepts of the film: man, nature, friendship, love, fear. There’s just not a lot happening. I think the most interesting thing in the film was Nolte’s gasping. Still, I smiled a lot and nothing annoyed me. A Walk in the Woods is somewhat charming.
HOWE: A Walk in the Woods is well written. There’s the odd bit of swearing but it works well in the dialogue. All too often writers throw curse words into a script for no good reason. Here it’s not out of place, not over used. Redford and Nolte work well off each other. Some of the people they meet on their trip are a little peculiar and the shots of the Appalachian Trail are simply stunning. Put that all together and it becomes a nice stroll in a national park.
– Taylor give A Walk in the Woods 3.5 artistic licences out of 5.
– Howe gives it 4 backpacks out of 5.
– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column appears in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.