Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) is a well-recognized author who decides one day to
hike the Appalachian Trail -- a hiking trail in the Eastern United
States that runs some 2,000 miles -- without really
knowing why. His wife (Emma Thompson) insists that he not travel alone,
and so, after many turn-downs, his old friend Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte)
volunteers to accompany him.
Katz arrives at Bryson's home in New Hampshire, overweight and
out-of-shape. He's a grouchy but friendly fellow who traveled to Europe
with Bryson when both were younger men, not the best of friends but
tolerant companions. A similar chemistry emerges after they fly south to
Georgia and begin their hike. Although Bryson is in better shape, they
are both older men and the hilly terrain tasks their physical abilities.
While their friendship is put to the test by various obstacles,
including an extremely talkative and self-confident hiker named Mary
Ellen (Kristen Schaal), the journey allows them to rekindle their
youthful connection and reflect upon the past, the present, the natural
beauty that surrounds them, and the vagaries of life.
The lighthearted tone of the movie is established early, as Bryson
endures an appearance on a television show to promote his latest
collection of books, spends quality time with his wife at a funeral, and
then mulls over his next adventure.
A Walk in the Woods directed by Ken Kwapis, is an altogether pleasant
movie, except whenever Redford smiles, or makes a joke, then the years lift off his
face, and all is right with the world, at least as long as the film continues.