First Hit: Enjoyable, interesting at times and funny – it was “A Walk in the Woods”.
This film has two veteran actors past their prime, showing why they still have something left in the tank.
Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) and Stephan Katz (Nick Nolte) are two old friends who’ve not seen each other for quite some time. Bryson gets an idea that he needs to change something in his life and decides to walk the Appalachian Trail (From Georgia to Maine).
His wife Catherine (Emma Thompson) doesn’t want him to do this, thinks he’s too old and makes a stipulation that he has to do this with someone. He calls lots of people and everyone turns him down, except Katz who wasn’t asked directly but heard it from a mutual friend. He’s interested because he has arrest warrants out against him and this will give him some relief from those worries.
The characters are clearly defined, Bryson refined, well spoken, and intelligent, while Katz is rude, crude, and well worn. But during the walk we see their likeness and learn of their history together. All the while each is walking in this beautiful part of the country for their own reasons.
They meet people along the way that supposedly challenge their beliefs, but only one, hiker Mary Ellen (Kristin Schaal), challenge them as a team. I never got a solid clear feeling as to why Bryson did the hike in the first place but it probably wasn’t important.
Overall, Redford was strong and was perfect to play this reserved controlled character. Nolte has had a lot of hard miles on him and was perfectly cast in this role because his character called for his background. Thompson was effective in her small role. Schaal was perfectly annoying and wonderful in her role as fellow hiker. Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman wrote a good screenplay that effectively highlighted these two disparate characters. Ken Kwapis got a fair amount of great scenes from these two, but some of the scene sets were obviously done in a studio.
Overall: This was a very enjoyable film.