Possible spoilers ahead!
Another movie I finally saw recently was “A Walk in the Woods.” This film was reccomended by TNU’s own, Laneit. He kept telling me how good it was, and I tend to trust him when it comes to movies.
“A Walk in the Woods” is based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 book of the same name. Which reminds me: I have not read the book, so I don’t know what changes if any were made. What I do know is that I had a really good time watching this movie, and it was all due to film’s stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Redford and Nolte star as two oldsters who attempt to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The whole thing starts when Redford, playing Bryson himself, gives an awkward TV interview and then says all the wrong things at a friend’s funeral. I found this really funny because you’d think that such an accomplished writer would be better with words.
After the funeral he decides he wants to walk the Appalachian Trail, not surprisingly, his English wife (played by Emma Thompson), is against her husband’s impulsive decision to undertake the marathon walk. Some of her fears include: bears, reptiles and insects and I think serial killers. Eventually she agrees to the walk, but only if Redford takes someone with him.
Turned down by everyone he can think of as a traveling companion, Bryson is then surprised to hear from a voice from the distant past, the gravelly-voiced Katz (Nick Nolte), who’s heard about the expedition and wants to go along.
The two had been friends ages ago in Iowa, but had a falling out years earlier, but Katz is enthusiastic about making the trip with hold old pal, and Bryson would like the company, so what the hell, right?
Unfortunately, Katz, to put it mildly, is not in good shape. He’s fat, grizzled, short of breath and unsteady on his feet, he looks like something those mountain bears might claim as one of their own, and he looks exhausted before the men have even hiked a mile on the first day. And as the duo learn from the taxi driver, most people quit the trail after the first week. But nothing will keep them from achieving their goal, or so they think.
I gotta say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed “A Walk in the Woods.” There were several times were I couldn’t stop laughing, like when Redford and Nolte meet
Mary Ellen (Kristen Schaal), a complete dingbat who speaks nonsense about anything and everything and never shuts up. This ordeal requires a quick escape on the men’s part.
There are other female encounters along the way that provoke various reactions. A lonely motel and restaurant owner (Mary Steenburgen) makes her interest clear to Robert Redford’s Bryson, who takes a pass. Nolte, meanwhile, gets into an awkward and funny spot with an abundantly proportioned woman he meets in a laundromat, which ultimately requires the old coot to escape out a back window after being hunted by the woman’s redneck husband.
Although “A Walk in the Woods” isn’t an Oscar worthy film, it does serve as a terrific showcase for two exceptionally durable stars. Even at his age, Redford grabs your attention like few other actors can. Like with most of the roles he’s played, you immediately like him, and from the first few scenes, you’re invested in what happens to this guy.
Nolte meanwhile, took his charachter and made the most of it. Given the shambling, out-of-shape figure he cuts, it’s quite a sight to watch him making his way up the mountains, through snow and rivers and trying to outsmart a redneck. This was by far Nick Nolte’s best work in years.
“A Walk in the Woods” is out on blu-ray and streaming now, and its definitely worth a look. And special thank to my buddy Laneit for telling me to watch this movie, and then asking over and over if I watched it yet.
“A Walk in the Woods” final score: 9