The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, September 17, 2015, Image 30

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    FILM REVIEW: “A WALK IN THE WOODS”
Buddy hiking comedy is light on its feet
Robert Redford and
Nick Nolte star in
adaptation of book
While ‘A Walk in the Woods’ is tame stuff,
indeed, a simple, comic stroll with pleasant
company is a decent way to end a movie
summer where the usual pace is a
Tom Cruise sprint.
By JAKE COYLE
AP Film Writer
The lure of the wild has re-
cently attracted an interesting
batch of solitude seekers: Re-
ese Witherspoon (“Wild”), Mia
Wasikowska (“Tracks”) and
Robert Redford, twice.
Two years after “All Is
Lost,” Redford has swapped
the sea for the woods, and
wordless isolation for Nick
Nolte. It’s not a bad trade.
“A Walk in the Woods” is
a broad and congenial comedy
about two aged old friends try-
ing to hike all 2,000-plus miles
of the Appalachian Trail, from
Georgia to Maine. It’s light on
its feet, even though its geriat-
ric woodsmen are plodding and
grunting.
The story, taken from Bill
Bryson’s 1998 book, might
seem like the kind of hokey
comedy trotted out every now
and then for older moviegoers.
It is that, to be sure. But Red-
ford and Nolte are a class, or
two, above the standard stars of
such fare. While “A Walk in the
Woods” is tame stuff, indeed, a
simple, comic stroll with pleas-
ant company is a decent way
to end a movie summer where
the usual pace is a Tom Cruise
sprint.
Redford has been trying
to adapt Bryson’s book for 10
years, and he’s now older than
the author was when he made
his trip, along with his pal Ste-
phen Katz (Nolte). It makes
their endeavor, particularly on
the part of the wheezing Nolte,
a little incredulous.
Nolte’s Katz, a former al-
coholic and proud philander-
er, was never an ideal hiking
companion; he’s the only one
Bryson could get to go with
him. But Nolte, 74 and so
croaky he can be hard to under-
Frank Masi, SMPSP/Broad Green Pictures via AP
Robert Redford, left, and Nick Nolte star as as Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz respectively in the film, “A Walk in the Woods.”
Redford has become accus-
tom to ¿elding but happily (for
our sake) ignoring. Authors,
Bryson responds, don’t retire.
They either drink themselves
away or blow their brains out.
But Bryson is instead drawn
by a mysterious longing to hike
the Appalachian Trail. His con-
cerned wife (Emma Thompson
— now there’s a couple) insists
he ¿nd a companion. When
everyone he can think of turns
him down, Katz, with whom
Bryson had lost touch, calls
him up to say he’s game.
After the two set out in
Georgia, their adventures un-
fold in episodic encounters
and pratfalls. Along the way,
they meet Kirsten Schnaal (as
an annoying fellow hiker), an
attractive innkeeper (Mary
Steenburgen).
But whereas “Wild” sought
redemption across the coun-
try on the 3aci¿c Crest Trail,
profundity isn’t the pursuit
of Bryson, Katz and “A Walk
in the Woods.” Director Ken
Kwapis (“Big Miracle”), work-
ing from the script by Rick
Kerb and Bill Holderman,
steers it on well-trod but pleas-
ant buddy-comedy paths that
offers few surprises other than
the undiminished appeal of its
ambling stars.
“A Walk in the Woods,” a
Broadgreen Pictures release, is
rated R by the Motion Picture
Association of America for
“language and some sexual
references.” Running time: 104
minutes. Two and a half stars
out of four.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on
Twitter at: twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
T he
Illah
ee
A partm ents
O rg a n ica lly g ro w n flo w ers
Frank Masi, SMPSP/Broad Green Pictures via AP
Nick Nolte, left, as Stephen Katz and Robert Redford as Bill Bryson hide from fellow hiker,
Kristen Schaal as Mary Ellen, along the Appalachian Trail in the film, “A Walk in the Woods.”
stand, is now more convincing
as a grizzly bear than a camper.
This, thankfully, is not a movie
where the actors are weighing
down their backpacks for the
sake of realism.
The germ for the trip begins
when Bryson returns to his
New Hampshire home after a
humbling book tour where he’s
met with questions of retire-
ment — likely the same kind
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September 17, 2015 | coastweekend.com | 21