Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal, and Nick Offerman.
Directed By: Ken Kwapis
It’s been a while since I reviewed a theatrical release. About a month. Honestly, very few films have piqued my interest. I ended up seeing this film, because my mom is a fan of Robert Redford. It’s slow. It’s like taking an actual walk in the woods.
Based on the best selling novel, Redford plays a travel author who is getting up there in years, and plays an author with a disarmingly younger wife (Thompson, 23 years younger than Redford), and who one day decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. His wife makes him take someone along, and Nick Nolte is sloppily introduced into the story, and off we go! The rest of the film is basically Redford and Nolte on their journey. The two actors have very little actual chemistry. It’s like watching two pros deliver two solitary performances, neither one really caring about the other. This feels like a paycheck movie, as Redford has been better, and even Nolte in recent years has been better. Nothing quite like watching Nolte growl his way through 2 hours of dialogue. He should really get into the audiobook world. I’d love to hear him read Where The Wild Things Are.
I wouldn’t say that this film is particularly bad. Offerman and Schaal are utilized well in minor roles, and Thompson does a good job as a trophy wife. The film just is way longer than it needs to be, which really pulls out the fact that the film has very little plot. There’s almost no conflict. There’s nothing, really. These two men never really reach a breaking point anymore than a Disney hero’s life is ever truly in peril. All Is Lost, this is not. In many ways, this film works as the antithesis to All Is Lost.
Again, not an awful movie, just a slow boring pointless one. I don’t know which is worse though, to meander such that your audience is bored out of their minds, or to just be an outright awful movie. There are a few moments of dialogue where Redford gets oddly educational, and teaches us about rocks and trees. Every time he does this, it feels out of place. “Oh, look there, sedimentary rock!” “Did you know the chestnut trees used to be everywhere? Then a fungus killed most of them.” I don’t quite understand the point of any of his “teachy” moments, because they aren’t anything we can go “join the cause” and fight to keep. It’s not like he’s telling us to save the dolphins. He’s saying there used to be some trees, but mother nature, and fungus and stuff. Like, OK. Cool? Thanks bro.
I supposed my problem with that is he’s not quite established as being a world renowned expert on outdoorsy stuff, so why would he know all of this in the first place? He’s just a “travel author”, and has never written a book about American travel. So why would he know all this history of chestnut trees? And why would he be telling Nick Nolte about it? It’s just odd filler in a movie that runs too long and has no point.
Although, A Walk In The Woods did promise… a walk in the woods. It does deliver on that. Somehow, I expect my films to have more of a point… or a plot… or conflict… or chemistry between characters… etc. Not just pretty scenery.
FINAL GRADE: C-