• Review: A Walk in the Woods (2015)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 6 11:37:39 2016
    A WALK IN THE WOODS (2015)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    *1/2 (out of ****)

    Humorist Bill Bryson's beloved travel guide about his experiences hiking
    the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail, "A Walk in the Woods," has been turned
    into a flat-footed farce featuring Robert Redford as Bryson and Nick Nolte
    as his curmudgeonly companion, Stephen Katz. Who thought this was a good
    idea, exactly? Adapting the popular book might have made sense, but why
    recast the burly, middle-aged journalist as a lean, octogenarian pretty
    boy? Ironically, Nolte looks distinctly more like an older version of
    Bryson than Redford does, but presumably his star power wasn't considered significant enough to carry the film. As for the translation itself,
    Bryson's 1998 bestseller is whimsical and poignant and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, but it's also corny and obvious in a lot of places.
    For some reason, the filmmakers responsible for this big screen version, director Ken Kwapis ("He's Just Not That Into You") and screenwriters
    William Holderman and Rick Kerb, have focused on the corny and obvious
    parts, blowing them up out of all proportion while simultaneously
    eliminating all subtleties and nuances from the original. Bear jokes, poop jokes, bear poop jokes--it's an embarrassment for all concerned. Well,
    perhaps not for Emma Thompson, who plays Bryson's dutiful wife Catherine
    and does the sensible thing by staying in New Hampshire. She's a breath of fresh air in a travel odyssey that, given the greatness of its outdoors,
    should have featured almost nothing but. Instead, all we get is steaming lungfuls of something else.

    David N. Butterworth

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