If you’ve ever wanted to wander the majestic beauty of the Appalachian Trail but without the hiking, camping, cold, heat, bugs and bears — then try “A Walk in the Woods.”
Robert Redford stars as Bill Bryson, a travel author facing his twilight years. Bryson decides he’s got one more adventure in him — to hike the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail.
His wife Catherine (Emma Thompson) quite rightly thinks he’s gone mad. She tries to dissuade him by leaving him news articles about people who have died on the trail. When this doesn’t work she tells him he cannot go alone.
Bryson reaches out to old friends but no one is interested. But then he hears from an old colleague, Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), who takes him up on the offer. They were never best of friends, but anyone will do in a pinch.
Katz shows up looking like he could barely walk across the street, let alone make an arduous 2,000-mile hike.
What follows in a 90-minute episode of “The Odd Couple Go Hiking.” Bryson is determined and knowledgable; Katz is unkempt and befuddled. They encounter bears, a blizzard, a chatty hiker and manage to fall down a cliff without breaking any bones. It’s all intercut with scenes of nature’s glory.
Directed by Ken Kwapis and based on Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods” is a pleasant if predictable diversion. It has heart, humor and glorious cinematography. It’s also pretty corny and by-the-numbers.
The film’s greatest strength — aside from the beauty of the trail — is its cast. I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed this movie as much if the lead roles were played by Tim Allen and Larry the Cable Guy. But having A-list talent like Redford, Nolte and Thompson on the film takes it to a higher level.
I’m probably also more inclined to favor this movie for having just come back from my own travels to majestic country. In fact, if you made it all the way through my LawyerCon report and were wishing someone would’ve filmed our adventure climbing to the lake atop Mount Doom, this movie gives a pretty good impression.
I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was Redford and who was Nolte.