Why You Should Probably Avoid A Walk in the Woods
Robert Redford, Nick Nolte play travel companions in critic-splitting flick
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2015 12:18 PM CDT

(Newser) – An impressive cast including Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson can't save A Walk in the Woods, a new flick based on Bill Bryson's travel memoir of the same name. It's a trip better left untaken, according to most critics. (It's just below the 50% positive mark at Rotten Tomatoes.) Here's what they're saying:

  • Want to see "two of America's finest screen actors completely humiliate themselves"? Then you're in the right theater, JR Jones writes at the Chicago Reader. Redford plays Bryson, who attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail with his buddy, played by Nolte. "Nick Offerman and Kristen Schaal turn up briefly to provide some comic relief," Jones adds. The only problem is that's something "you're not supposed to need when the movie itself is a comedy."
  • The flick has "a few too many side characters" and "a sitcom heart, but that doesn't ruin the journey," writes Joe Neumaier at the New York Daily News. Redford gives "a natural curiosity" to a "stuffy" character, he says. Meanwhile, "Nolte's way with a joke is nimble, and his delivery is spot-on." Neumaier adds, "While older audiences will go for it, even viewers who haven't acquired the wisdom of age can learn something."

  • Bilge Ebiri suggests this might be an example of "exceptionally lazy filmmaking." It's "a road movie without a road, a journey of self-discovery without discovery, and a tale of friendship without any chemistry," Ebiri writes at Vulture. Nolte's "aura suits the role and the movie. But nothing else works," including the "lowest-common-denominator gags executed with little energy or conviction."
  • Colin Covert is on an entirely different page. Though he isn't known for his comedic chops, "released from the shackles of his serious stereotype, Redford glorifies every gag in the script," he writes at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Then there's Nolte, who's "divine" and "perfect for the unfit, funny, slovenly Steven Katz." Overall, Covert says A Walk in the Woods is "a first-rate movie" and "warmly entertaining."