Tuesday, September 8, 2015

[Review] A Walk in the Woods

If you were to take last year's heavy hike film--the Reese Witherspoon-starring Pacific Coast Highway trek Wild, and combined it with last year's "two old men of a certain age on a journey" film Land Ho!, you basically get this year's A Walk in the Woods. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are the buddy duo in this, and the film occupies an awkward space--in that it almost feels like an R-rated Hallmark movie.

Bill (Redford) is a successful author. The intro doesn't really indicate much about his actual character, or convey a major catalyst for why he suddenly decides he wants to embark on a 2,000+ mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Anyway, he needs a partner, and the only bite he gets is from an old friend Stephen (Nolte) that he fell out of touch with. It's safe to say Stephen is in pretty rough shape. The two prepare and mingle for a while, but there comes a point when you just want them to get a move-on already. Once they do, there's a humorous scene where they both get winded about 5 minutes into the walk.

This is a very easygoing excursion (well, especially for us not doing the hiking) with lots of great scenery of sprawling hillsides and diverse terrain. Any bit of conflict that arises is always simply swept away, which in turn makes the film feel a little too light. A couple of introspective moments come with the territory, involving aging and how small we are in the universe. Here, we have two reunited friends that took very different paths in life, and now they're taking a literal one together.

Aside from some questionable dialogue, a rocky tone, a wasted Emma Thompson role, a semi-anticlimactic ending, and the fact that it's essentially about two men walking and talking with a few odd detours, there's no doubt that Redford and Nolte are certainly a fun duo to watch on screen, making this a mostly regret-free experience. A Walk in the Woods is by no means a flawless outing, but a lot of people will find this to be perfectly enjoyable, so don't let my rating prevent you from going. However, I can't help but think that this journey could've been a lot better on multiple fronts.


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