WRONG TURN INTO THE TRITE STUFF
Director: Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Mary Steenburgen
Here comes the trudge!
Once upon a time, one of the world’s greatest living travel writers realised he’d never seriously put pen to paper about his own home country.
So what was legendary American scribe Bill Bryson (played here by Robert Redford) to do? Tell himself to take a hike. Along the dauntingly arduous 3500km Appalachian Trail, no less. So begins A Walk In the
Woods, a trite, but never quite trying account of Bryson’s Appalachian adventures, which later became one of his most beloved books.
As the longtime rightsholder to Bryson’s bestseller, Redford has encouraged some considerable tweaks to the source material to accommodate a star of his longevity (he’s in his late seventies, now).
Therefore those who know the book cover-to-cover will be surprised to see it hit the big screen as a rather genial (and sometimes feeble) curmudgeon-a-thon. A kind of Grumpy Old Men Vs. The Great Outdoors, if you like.
Teaming up with Redford for much shaky-kneed stumbling and saucy skylarking is Nick Nolte. He plays a portly, ornery and lady-chasing layabout who somehow grafts himself on to Bryson’s mega-trek without so much as a health check (which he surely would have failed).
Though it is pleasant enough simply to be in the company of these two charismatic old stagers, Redford and Nolte are never the hilarious double-act director Ken Kwapis makes them out to be.
The stars fare better when the script takes a breather from the weary wisecracks, and simply lets them act their age. A few scenes gently highlighting the pair’s advancing mortality point clearly to what this so-so affair might have been.