Review: A Walk in the Woods

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods stars Robert Redford as the writer Bill Bryson. His hiking buddy Katz is played by Nick Nolte. Also featured in the film are Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal. 

A Walk in the Woods is funny and has a certain charm just because it’s Robert Redford and Nick Nolte walking the Appalachian Trail. Those two can’t help but be entertaining. There are some good one-liners.

It’s a beautiful film with amazing vistas and locations in the woods. The film is sensuous with natural sights and sounds.

Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in A Walk in the Woods
To borrow a phrase from “On Golden Pond,” these are two old poots

Bryson wrote about his trek with a buddy along the Appalachian Trail when he was 40. Redford and Nolte are in their 70s. The film was not adapted accordingly. Okay, I can accept that a man in his 70s would want to prove to himself he still has it, he can still do it.

Katz went just to be with his old friend, and to avoid a month in jail. That reasoning is less believable, especially since Katz is in terrible physical shape. Although they hiked for about 3 months, Katz’s condition never seemed to improve.

The thing that didn’t quite happen in this movie, although it came close once or twice, is what Grace and Frankie manages to accomplish: an honest look at getting older. The film fell short for me because of that.

Redford spend years trying to get A Walk in the Woods made, thinking he and Paul Newman would do it together. When Paul Newman became ill, Nolte stepped into the part. It could have been more.Why didn’t they adapt events just a bit to include some insight on aging, on why men in their 70s would do something so rigorous? I see 70 and 80 year old men working out at the YMCA where I go and it’s obvious they are there to maintain strength and health. I’d accept that as a reason for a walk in the woods. But we got no reason, at least on Bryson’s part.

A Walk in the Woods isn’t a bad film. You’ll certainly enjoy it. But it could have been more.

2 thoughts on “Review: A Walk in the Woods”

  1. I agree it could have been more, Virginia, but I still enjoyed it. I realize I am hungry for films about older people like me, and try to see every single one. I am tired, tired, tired of movies about younger people who jump off buildings and around corners with guns, killing and maiming each other, or who are zombie-like or preoccupied with the supernatural. I do appreciate that you feature movies about young people who are going through some personal development—it is refreshing.

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