Bryson (Robert Redford) does have one returned call though – from Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) a man who had driven the author up the wall during a trip around Europe they’d taken decades previous. However in their elderly age, Bryson knows two minds are better than one – in spite of his wife Catherine’s (Emma Thompson) best efforts to convince him otherwise. But the pair set off nonetheless, to hike over two thousand miles of unspoiled, picturesque countryside. Well, at least it was – until these two begun their expedition.
When you think about all of the adventures Bryson has been on and eloquently and humorously documented in his work – from venturing though the Australian Outback, to drinking urine, to journeying around Kenya – it’s intriguing as to why it took a short, mostly unadventurous stint in his home nation to encourage a cinematic reimagining. However, while short on indelible moments, without the wealth of stories from the experience, there’s something more subtle, and more human about this tale, revelling in the notion of understatement, that actually makes for a more engaging, less contrived narrative.
Surprisingly, however, the two leading performances from the esteemed Redford (too wooden) and Nolte (too wheezy) do little to illuminate the screen, in spite of the latter giving it his very best shot. But then again, neither of them are blessed with very well rounded, full bodied characters – and despite all of the stories of their past sounding terribly exciting, sadly that it’s all it is to us – stories.
Ken Kwapis’ A Walk in the Woods is just lacking in any overall sense of clarity, or real point. The ending feels all too rushed, and you’re left to ponder over what this all means, and what the intention was in this production. What do really learn about these two characters? What do they achieve? But hey, at least there are a few dad jokes on offer. Which, much like good old-fashioned dad jokes, are generally really rather poor, but begrudgingly funny on occasion, too.