After living in Britain for many years, travel writer Bill Bryson moved back to his homeland of America in 1995, feeling somewhat disconnected from the country he was born in. In an attempt to rediscover America, Bryson decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, a journey which then only 10% of people who started ever finished. Advanced in age and dragging along his overweight and incredibly unfit friend, Stephen Katz, Bryson’s journey lent itself to many humorous adventures and difficult struggles, all of which were documented in Bryson’s 1998 book A Walk In The Woods. Based on this true story comes the 2015 film adaptation of the same name, directed by Ken Kwapis (The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, He’s Just Not That Into You), with Robert Redford in the role of Bryson.
Also featuring Nick Nolte as Stephen Katz and Emma Thompson as Bryson’s wife Catherine, this comedy biopic is all about adventure, discovery, and finding those all important things that make life so sweet. The movie offers a few laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of breathtaking American landscapes coupled with a sweeping soundtrack that will have you itching to drop everything and jump on a plane. It is, for the most part, an enjoyable film. It’s just not a particularly memorable one.
While there are some snippy one-liners, for the most part the humour is a little cliche and the laughs don’t come as frequently as they might if you were actually reading Bryson’s account of the events. Robert Redford is relatively ordinary in the role of Bryson, and lacks a the comedic timing to raise this comedy to the next level, which we saw a glimpse of in the all-too-short scene featuring Parks and Recreation alumni Nick Offerman. I’d also hazard a guess that the screenwriters have taken a few creative liberties in terms of the plot, because some of the scenes are a little far fetched to pass off as the “true story”. In their defense however, I would say such twists and turns would be necessary, otherwise we’d simply be watching two old men walking through the woods for the 104 minute run time.
All in all, A Walk In The Woods is an adequately amusing film, but one that I suspect will fly under the radar. There just isn’t quite enough going for it to make the film great, unfortunate considering it’s the first feature film adaptation of one of Bill Bryson’s books.
[youtube id=”D-hCcoqWllw” width=”620″ height=”360″]