Robert Redford, who deserved an Oscar nomination for his full-bodied performance in J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, has been tromping around the Great Outdoors for six decades now. Redford was convincing as a hotshot skier in Michael Ritchie’s Downhill Racer, convincing as a mountain man in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, and he’s convincing as a travel writer in A Walk in the Woods, Ken Kwapis’s adaptation of Bill Bryson’s 1998 bestseller.
When Bryson’s wife (Emma Thompson) suggests he find a hiking companion, he settles on the alcoholic, out-of-shape Stephen Katz (a rougher-than-rough Nick Nolte), an estranged college buddy, after everyone else declines his offer, but what seems like a promising set-up quickly runs aground with shock-your-granny jokes about crabs, blowjobs, and Katz’s preference for plus-size ladies. It’s enough to make those Grumpy Old Men movies seem like masterworks of grace and subtlety.
by Kathy Fennessy
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