A Walk In the Woods

Film, Comedy
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A Walk In the Woods

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte take a walk on the mild side in a harmless Bill Bryson adaptation

Restless and out of sorts on returning to his native US after two decades as a hugely successful chronicler of the British and their language (and foibles), Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) decides that tackling the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail will be just the thing to set his world to rights. His missus (Emma Thompson) is fretful and appalled, while the only chum he can persuade to join him is Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), the veteran hellraiser with whom he travelled fractiously round Europe in his youth.

What follows is a pleasant-enough account of two shambling old geezers – Redford and Nolte are 79 and 74 respectively, Bryson a stripling of 44 when he hit the trail – taking on the grandeur of nature and rekindling an old friendship. There’s not terribly much at stake whether they complete the trek or not, but Nolte’s ornery bluster entertains throughout, and Redford’s slightly smug, distant performance is fascinating, as if the guy who seems to have it all (Bryson has a library named after him!) isn’t quite comfortable in his own skin. Ultimately superficial yet watchable throughout, it’s the very definition of classy fluff. 

By: Trevor Johnston


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday September 18 2015
Duration: 104 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ken Kwapis
Screenwriter: Bill Holderman
Cast: Nick Offerman
Kristen Schaal
Mary Steenburgen
Robert Redford

Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Tom Bruce
1 of 1 found helpful

A Walk in the Woods is more of an advertisement for the tourism board of the state of Georgia than it is an authentic tie-in to Bill Bryson's best-selling travel writing book of the same name, in which the anglophile and a friend attempt to walk the length of the Appalachian mountain trails of America.Filling in for Bryson and his old high school drinking buddy Stephen Katz - both in their mid-forties when the expedition was made - are the woefully miscast Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, both of them thirty years too old and neither of much use in what is clearly meant to be a buddy-comedy road movie but which instead unravels into an unimaginative series of predictable set-pieces which have been done to death in innumerable other 'lost in the woods' style flicks. 

You've got the bear encounter, the redneck encounter, the crazy-bad weather bit, the 'we're stuck and are gonna die' moment, the part where they see a pretty view and in it find a re-affirmation of their own petty existences, and on like so. And not forgetting the moment toward the end when they reconcile their past differences and lament that their paths ever parted, the kind of beautiful bonding moment between old friends that can apparently only come after a series of profound near-death experiences. 

To be sure, Byrson is an excellent humourist, but his witticisms and espousings of scientific-historic jargon do not play at all as well on the ears as they do in your mind when read - having Redford garble them straight from the by-the-NUMBers (not the emphasis there) script only heightens the artificiality of the piece. Hard to believe Bryson approved it, frankly. The films only redemption lies in its environment, which the filmmakers had nothing to do with anyway,but even then there are several faked landscape backdrops which appear to have been drawn by a crayon-wielding toddler, and the shots of it which are real are captured by swooping helicopter in the ever-so perfect travel advertisement style you see looped on massive unaffordable TVs in John Lewis.

critique _

A gentle, inconsequential walk in the woods. Nick Nolte and nature are the main draws; Redford is as wooden as the trees.

John C

A film about an old age crisis, could have been called "The Odd couple go on a long walk". In his younger days Robert Redford displayed a talent for light comedy, this has long gone and he now seems to have developed a complete comedy bypass.....  There is Lack of chemistry between Redford & Nolte which kills the potential comedy and most of their scenes together.  

There are funny moments in the film, but all of them were revealed in the trailer (why do they do this ?) Both Emma Thompson and Mary Steenburgen have walk on parts which is a total waste of their talent.

 The film is rather trivial, flat, and very disappointing.