“A Walk in the Woods,” starringRobert Redford as Bill Bryson and Nick Nolte as Katz, is a film about two older men going on a journey along the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail. The movie is based on the acclaimed best-selling book by Bill Bryson of the same title.
Produced by Redford, the original plan was to have a reunion with his partner in “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid,” Paul Newman, but this ceased after Newman passed away in 2008. If those two would have been together it would have been a must-see film, but don’t get me wrong, Nolte does a fine job, yet the film is highly predictable and falls short on the humor aspect it was going toward.
Redford and Nolte make a good odd couple in this film, with Redford playing the sophisticated writer looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and Nolte playing an out-of-shape, ex-alcoholic with nothing better to do than go for a six-month-long hike. You become engaged in the film early on because of these clearly different people coming together for something that has a lot of potential of being a good story. But this assumption falls flat. There are a lot of one liners that are cute and witty throughout, but the story becomes as old as the men playing it. They try to be subtle on their hints of what’s going to happen next, but everything that happens you can see coming, which takes away from the great presence of two actors.
Redford and Nolte are and have been great actors throughout their careers, but this film was not meant for them. First off, in the book, Bryson and Katz are 44-year-old men, which would make this film a little more believable than a couple of 70-year-old dudes hiking the Appalachian Trail. Redford and Nolte don’t appear to even believe this is a good film; they seem to be going through the motions not executing on anything, part of which has to do with the script and the fact they’re 30-years-too-old for this film.
One thing the film does an excellent job of is showing the pure beauty of the trail and how big of a feat it is to accomplish something so massive, but this is about the only thing enjoyable, and without Redford and Nolte I would consider the film unwatchable. It’s over-predictable, and the humor isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. It’s more a cute humor with a lot of F-words coming from the raspy-voiced Nolte. The film seems to be lost for good dialogue, which makes you lose interest as the film goes on. You wouldn’t star Robert De Niro instead of Leonardo Di Caprio in the “Wolf of Wall Street”; otherwise, the story becomes less believable, and by starring these two vets that’s exactly what the film did.
Personally, I would say read the book if you are interested in a story like this because the film, rated R, just doesn’t do anything for me. It was good to see Redford and Nolte together in a film since they’ve only done it once before in the little known film, “The Company You Keep,” a political thriller made in 2013. I would like to see these two pair up again because they do have good chemistry between them but in something more suitable for them. I would give this film 2 out of 4 stars, because it’s not a complete snore-fest; there are some good parts, but the overall story of this journey just doesn’t provide the type of film we’re accustomed to seeing by these two veterans.