In theory, Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are a match made in comedy heaven. Redford’s sardonic wit and Nolte’s off-the-wall lunacy make them an ideal comedy duo. And in A Walk in the Woods, they go hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Sounds like a recipe for a lot of zany adventures, right?
Well, yes and no. While Redford and Nolte exchange a fair bit of decent banter, I found myself a bit surprised by the lack of hijinks in this film. For example, at one point Redford quietly eats at a restaurant and contemplates adultery when Nolte busts through the door and tells a story about being chased through the whole town by a guy whose wife he was flirting with. I found myself thinking, “Why aren’t we watching that?” It seems much more interesting story than Nolte causing a minor disruption in a diner.
The film is full of moments like that. It seems like so many valuable stories are wasted to make room for more heart-to-heart conversations, some of which involve the two talking about people that we, the audience, know nothing about. As a matter of fact, the film will frequently skip over whole months of story. And when you get past all the humor, the premise doesn’t make much sense. Redford, a successful travel author who isn’t recognized by any of the travel enthusiasts he encounters along the Appalachian Trail, decides to hike said trail, not for the purposes of writing another book, but just because he feels like it. There’s no indication that he’s not interested in writing a book (in fact, he’s halfway through a book), just that he doesn’t want to write one about this trip. At the end of the movie, he continues to tell Nolte that he won’t write a book, only to arrive home right after and immediately start writing the book. Two months into a trip both characters know will take six months, they’re flabbergasted to find that they’re less than halfway there. At the beginning of the movie, Redford says that he lived in England for 10 years and went back to the States for 20, but then later repeatedly states that he met his wife in the UK 40 years ago.
This has been a negative review so far, but I actually sort of liked the movie. It was pretty charming, and Redford and Nolte really do bounce off of each other really well. It’s just that throughout the movie, people keep telling them that they’ll never make it to Georgia, and in the end… they don’t. They head back less than halfway through. It’s all these weird missed opportunities and anticlimaxes that make the film disappointing, even though it is really fun to watch.
Overall, I give it a B-. Definitely not one of my favorites, but worth a watch if you’ve got those post-summer blues. Coming up, I’ll have a list of the best Drake features, my top 5 favorite movies that were never made, the best Nicki Minaj features, and a review of Sleeping With Other People if it’s showing anywhere near me. Until then, like this post if you like it, comment if you’ve got something to say, follow my blog if you like it like it, you can also follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and I’ll see you ’round.