A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods ★★★½

This story about travel writer Bill Bryson's attempt to hike the Appalachian trail with an old frienemy is one of the summer's most charming films. Going in I thought I was going to be seeing a Robert Redford cinematic sermon about how we need to preserve our forests. Instead I got a pretty funny buddy comedy about growing old, rediscovering roots, and Nick Nolte's general awesomeness.

And Nolte is awesome. With his ruddy face, phlegmy voice, and unwashed appearance, he steals the film from the monotone Redford and gives one of my favorite performances of the year. His character is an uncivilized goof, a recovering alkie, and a womanizer, but Nolte injects the stereotype with a humanity that only makes his clichéd behaviors not only believable, but charming. One scene in particular has him trying to seduce an extremely heavy woman at a laundromat while helping her remove her panties after they've gotten trapped in the washing machine agitator. It had me rolling in laughter for its trashy honesty.

The film's journey is pretty standard stuff, but thankfully the chemistry between Redford and Nolte helps the sentiment go down smooth. This isn't quite as good as last year's old man travelogue LAND HO, but it resonated with me much better than the obvious symbolism on display in WILD.

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