Old guys go for a hike.
A Walk in The Woods sees Robert Redford playing famed author Bill Bryson, who seems to be having a late onset midlife crisis. After attending a funeral he didn’t want to attend, he decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. This trail runs a bit over 2,000 miles. Bill would pipe in at this point to correct me by saying The Trail is 2,180 miles. That’s the kind of guy Bill is. A know-it-all’s know-it-all who likes to rattle off random facts and statistics.
But that’s fine, it’s the knowing detail that makes his books so much fun to read. Here he sounds a bit peevish and condescending at times. For most of the film, Robert looks a bit sad and at rare moments, a touch wistful. But this is due in large part to his traveling companion, Nick Nolte. Nick is an old man who is scarcely recognizable. He plays a fellow named Steven Cats, who spends the bulk of his time recalling a trip he and Bill took thirty years earlier.
There are a several funny bits, a few touching bits, and several wide shots of the amazing vistas you can see from one spot or another along the trail.
A Walk In The Woods was a fun film, I liked it. But it can’t hold a candle to the book. Bill is a showoff know-it-all in the book, too, but somehow he comes across a little more fun in print.
I like Robert Redford, but just as Clint Eastwood was a couple of decades too old to play the lead in Bridges of Madison County, so too is Redford a couple of decades older than Bill Bryson was when he took his walk in the woods. Bryson was 47 when A Walk In The Woods was published, Robert Redford is 79 now. Nick Nolte is close behind Redford at 74. Bill Bryson is currently 63. I’m not saying a couple of 70 year old guys can’t walk in the woods for a couple of months, I just wonder if it might have been a different story.