Making a movie about two older gentlemen taking a walk in the woods doesn’t sound like something that most would be interested in. However, that doesn’t mean the movie can’t have some kind of value. If it’s done well enough, it may not get a large number of people going to see it, but it can satisfy at least a few. When looking at this film starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, that may be the best anyone involved could hope for.
In the lead role, Redford stars as Bill Bryson, a man getting closer to an age when retirement seems to be calling out at you every moment of your day. Instead of accepting that fate, Bryson decides to keep moving and head on an adventure by traveling from Georgia to Maine on what’s known as the Appalachian Trail. At the start, his only issue seems to be that he is forced to bring along Katz (Nolte), a former friend from decades ago who happens to be the only person willing to head out on this voyage with him. What comes next however, changes him and his outlook on life.
A Walk in the Woods is one of those rare modern-day films that relies mainly on its characters to entertain and further the story that’s being rolled out for viewers. Based on how movies are made at the moment, this isn’t necessarily needed in most instances, but it is here, and it makes this particular film much stronger than it would have been under the usual circumstances. That’s because most of what we see outside of the two leads simply doesn’t offer enough to satisfy on its own.
Due to this fact, this picture could definitely be too slow or uneventful for some people who choose to watch it since they rely solely on Redford and Nolte for just about everything. This isn’t something that completely damages the film for me, but even a character driven story such as this one could benefit from adding more outside of the people leading the way. It would give us more to focus on while also adding more “meat” to all that’s taking place.
While I see the duo as being interesting enough to watch at least one time through, there are also others who could enjoy this more than even I could. It is geared toward an older audience anyway, so I can imagine people from a certain age range really getting into it. Once again, this is because of the leads. They represent familiar personalities and have a chemistry that’s good enough to make you believe that the two actors are best of friends in real life. Those features alone could be why some people may be able to get into it.
They also make the misadventures funny with the comedy that’s being utilized. While the duo work off of one another in some instances, Nick Nolte does a great deal of the heavy lifting in this area. I didn’t think he or Robert Redford had much left to give us cinematically as actors, but they proved me wrong with their performances here. I can appreciate the effort they put in since it looks like they’re truly engaged in spite of their ages.
Outside of those two and a few adventures that they find themselves involved in, there isn’t a much else to love here. I wish there was, because that’s what it needed to be great. While it isn’t for all audiences, it does have a shot at satisfying those who are interested. If that what was the goal at the start, then the people behind A Walk in the Woods should be happy with what they get out of it. Then again, they probably didn’t pay too much to get it made anyway, so they most likely won’t stress if this ends up not making any money.
Director: Ken Kwapis
Film Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: September 2, 2015
Distributor: Broad Green