Monday, September 7, 2015

A Walk in the Woods - A Movie ReviewNee

The first thing I noticed in this movie was the weathered look of Robert Redford. My memories were of the heart throb young actor in "The Way Were" that came out when I was in high school. But then in the many years that have passed, he has gone on to win an Oscar and countless other awards as an actor, producer, and director, as well establish one of the most prestigious film festivals around. All the while the rugged good looks still suit him well. Meanwhile, I have aged and have no such credits or awards to speak of. But, I digress.

A Walk in the Woods is based on Bill Bryson's  book by the same name.  In the movie (as in the book) Bryson (played by Redford) is a well known travel writer, who in one of those "I have to do something moments" decides - with no, or little hiking experience - to hike the Appalachian Trail. And, not just part of the trail but the entire trail from Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine - all 2,200 miles of it.

His wife Catherine (played by Emma Thompson) tells him in no uncertain terms he has lost his mind. When she realizes he is dead set on this idea, she insists he find someone to go with him. After getting turned down by all his friends with responses such as (and I paraphrase) 'I'd rather have a colonoscopy', an acquaintance, he has not heard from since his youth, Stephen Katz (played by Nick Nolte) calls and asks to join him. Katz was not even on his list. They had lost touch over the years and gone their separate ways.

When Katz shows up to join him, Bryson (nor I) hardly recognize him. He is overweight, with an unkempt white beard and long white hair. He limps with what he refers to as one knee that is his titanium replacement and the other is his trick knee. Needless to say, this is not what Catherine had in mind as a companion for Bill on the trail. Thompson plays her character so well as the sensible British wife who thinks her husband has lost his mind or is having some late in life crisis. But she realizes she has said her peace and he is going to do it.


The critics liked the film but were not in love with it. Everyone agreed the scenery was beautiful - it was. Some thought there should have been more to the trail. However, if you read Bryson's book you would know that it is a  humorous look at the hike, not a trail book. There are some stock characters who add much color to the story. And, overall the movie is very entertaining. The idea of these too older men, in their 70's, with no experience, heading out to seriously walk this trail in funny in itself.

The movie is enjoyable and moves along just like the trail - up and down with quite a bit of subtle comedy and some moments that had the entire audience (when I saw it) laughing out loud. Although in the first quarter mile of the trail you wonder how far they will actually get. It is definitely well worth the 104 minutes of your time for entertainment, however I do not see this as an award winning performance for anyone.

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