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A Walk In The Woods Review

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Threading more or less the same path as last year’s Reese Witherspoon starring Wild, A Walk in the Woods, an adaption of travel writer Bill Bryson’s book of the same name, sees Robert Redford step into the shoes of Bryson as he attempts the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200 mile hiking trail that passes through 14 American states, including Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, and New York. Forced to take a partner by his wife (Emma Thompson), Bryson finds the only taker is his old friend Steven Katz (Nick Nolte), an overweight, recovering alcoholic who looks to be in no shape for psychical exertion of any kind. The pair embark on the endeavour, but as you can expect from two men in their 70’s, they soon find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

With our two leads the main focus of its 104 minute run time, A Walk in the Woods is a very pleasant and gentle affair, with Bryson playing straight man to the boorish, lecherous Katz. They prove to be a very charming pairing, with both getting the requisite amount of laughs out of the premise, even though the more time passes, the more it feels like the The Sundance Kid is phoning it in. There’s a fine supporting cast surrounding our lead pair, including Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, and Kristen Schall. But with the exception of Schall, they’re not given anything to do (Steenburgen especially, whose role will have you scratching your head as to why it was included), which is even more frustrating as they are all incredible talents who are just wasted here.


This ties into the main thing A Walk in the Woods is lacking, and that is a compelling narrative. No real rhyme or reason is given to Bryson’s sudden urge to hike the trail (some guff is presented about him wanting to do something meaningful with his life, but it just seems to be tacked on as an afterthought), and the story just trips from one incident to the next, with numerous plot points introduced going absolutely no where. Any emotional payoff director Ken Kwapis is building towards feels completely unearned, and while you may be enjoying yourself watching the film, you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything of note once you leave the theatre.

While Nolte and Redford do seem to be trying, nothing else about A Walk in the Woods is. Not without it’s charm, it ultimately adds up to nothing more than a pleasant distraction.







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The Movie Bit: A Walk In The Woods Review
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