A Walk in the Woods

Director: Ken Kwapis (2015)

In no danger of ever straining an acting muscle, Robert Redford ambles through this genial adaption of Bill Bryson’s best-selling account of his trek along the Appalachian mountain trail.

After one funeral too many and perturbed by his well-heeled life of ease, successful author Bill decides to take himself out of his comfort zone by hiking over two thousand miles.

Emma Thompson pops up as his wife to warn Bill of the potential hazards and begs him not to go.

Only his raddled, rasping and rambling old friend Nick Nolte is mad enough to go with him. He’s as short of money as he is of breath.

It’s an odd couple comedy, less concerned with the journey travelled but the welcome home. It’s as charming and handsome as it’s lead and equally as empty of interest as his performance.

There’s slapstick buffoonery, unconvincing peril and light grumbling as the decrepit duo are tempted by soft beds, pretty ladies and motorised transport.

The script contains very little of Bill’s scientific curiosity, wonder at the natural world or understated warm wit which made the book such a joy. The lack of it tests our patience.

At 79 years old Redford is still a strikingly good looking man, even if he has borrowed Paul MCartney’s hair colouring.

He is of course still a magnet for the ladies. In true Hollywood style his screen wife is 23 years younger than himself.

It’s inferior to Reese Witherspoon’s one woman trek Wild (2014) which is inferior itself to Mia Wasikowska’s outback odyssey Tracks (2013).

If the bearded and portly former Fleet Street stroller Bryson can score for The Sundance Kid playing him on the big screen, then I’m not settling for anyone less than Keanu Reeves in my future biopic.

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