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.

Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (2015)

This tiresome coming-of-age cancer flick should have been titled Me, Myself and I.

Thomas Mann plays gangly geek Greg Gaines. He spends his high school life avoiding everyone but his friend Earl.

As they remake their favourite movies, a large volume of film references are dropped heavily on the viewers’ head.

Greg’s mother packs him off on a mercy visit to Rachel, a fellow student who’s dying of cancer.

Olivia Cooke is a picture of perky good health until suddenly sporting an array of fetching hats and wigs.

The script has no interest in her or the disease. She’s made to suffer only so Greg can develop as a character.

Played by Ronald Cyler II, all we learn of Earl is he hails from the wrong side of the tracks and has a hankering for titties. His word, not mine.

Poor Katherine C. Hughes is cast as the high school hot girl whose breasts the camera invites us to admire.

There’s inappropriate adult behaviour, accidental drug taking and fisticuffs in the cafeteria.

Quirky camera angles and cute animations are as provocatively passive aggressive in their behaviour as Greg is.

Ideas such as receiving advice from movie stars via their image on bedroom posters are never developed.

The young cast have charm and there are fleeting funny moments but the tone is teeth grindingly twee.

Kiwi screenwriter of Brit comedies Richard Curtis would be impressed by the random quirks masquerading as characters who populate Greg’s world.

I empathised mostly with a coma victim.

★★☆☆☆