A Walk in the Woods

ST. LOUIS — “A Walk in the Woods” is a sweet comedy based on the book of the same name and the life of its author, travel writer Bill Bryson.

The movie tells the story of Bryson (Academy Award winner Robert Redford) upon his return to the US to retire with his wife, Catherine (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson), after spending two decades in England. He decides to challenge himself to hike the Appalachian Trail — 2,168 miles of America’s most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine.

The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek — his long lost and former friend Stephen Katz (Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who keeps one step ahead of the law and sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts.

Redford and Nolte really played off of each other — beautifully. They were so much fun to watch. The acting is superb. If I were a member of the Academy of Arts and Science, I would nominate “A Walk in the Woods” for an Oscar as well as its two lead actors. Unfortunately, it is not edgy enough to garner the Academy’s attention.

Redford bought the rights to “A Walk in the Woods” 13 years ago. It went into development hell until Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman provided the witty script. Ken Kwapis, director of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” was picked to direct.

The photography of Appalachia was magnificent. I found myself wanting to jump in the car and drive there. Of course, I have no intention of walking the trail, but a drive through Appalachia would be nice.

When I went to see “A Walk in the Woods” Wednesday night, I sat next to a guy who told me his teen-aged daughter asked him, “Who is Robert Redford?” It has been a while since Redford starred in a movie that appeals to the younger set and this movie is no exception. It is a great movie that every boomer or older person will love. One woman said she would walk the whole Appalachian Trail if she could “walk with Robert Redford.” Everyone I talked to loved the movie and used the word “great” to describe their reaction to the film.

“A Walk in the Woods” opens this week at AMC Eastgate Showplace 6 and AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12.

The Telegraph’s contributing movie critic Mary Cox lives in Wood River and is a member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who also occasionally writes about film-related topics, studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in L.A. with various directors and industry professionals. She can be reached at mlcwriter@charter.net.