Friday, September 11, 2015

A Walk In The Woods (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

Redford and Nolte Take a Bumbling “Walk In the Woods”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

William McGuire Bryson is best known for his humorous travel books. Having spent most of his adult life in England, he and his wife returned to his native New Hampshire in 1995. Bored, he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail.

With his wife insisting that he take along a friend for safety, he wound up with an old acquaintance, “a crude, overweight recovering alcoholic,” Just great. Less than 25% of those who start hiking the
trail in Georgia ever make it all way through Maine.

No spoilers here about how this mismatched duo did in their quest. But Bryson wrote a book about it, titled “A Walk In the Woods.”

Now Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are starring in a movie based on the book -- also titled “A Walk in the Woods.” This week you can join them on this trek at the Tropic Cinema without even getting a blister on your foot.

In his late 40s at the time of this walkabout, the bearded and somewhat chubby Bill Bryson bears little resemblance to still-handsome nearly 80-year-old Robert Redford.

It’s hard to judge how well Nick Nolte resembles Bryson’s hiking companion, because “Stephen Katz” is a pseudonym. When Redford first optioned the book, he’d hoped his old buddy Paul Newman would again be his co-star. But Nolte has a more authentically dilapidated look.

Why this book? “I don’t know when I’ve read a book that I laughed so loud,” says Redford. “Also, it’s a chance to take a look at the country ... The backdrop is pretty terrific, if you stop to think of all the visuals that are possible as they go along that trail.”

“A Walk In the Woods” was filmed mostly in Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, Georgia.  The Appalachian Trail begins in that park.

Despite his age, Redford seems eager to prove his vitality. Two years ago he took on the physically demanding role of a sailor lost at sea in “All Is Lost.” Now this.

Being Redford’s film, of course it premiered at Sundance Film Festival this past January.

Don’t expect it to be quite as introspective as Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild,” a film based on Cheryl Strayed’s solo hike along the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. “A Walk In the Woods” is a buddy film, an almost-funny comedy about two out-of-shape guys bumbling along the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. Truth is, it’s closer to that Weather Channel TV show, “Fat Guys In the Woods.”

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