Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


SYNOPSIS: Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) is a successful travel writer, reluctant to retire. He decides to challenges himself and sets his sights on hiking the legendary Appalachian Trail - over 2,100 miles through some of the most spectacular and rugged wilderness in America. His wife (Emma Thompson) is concerned by the idea of his travelling alone, and suggests he finds a friend to accompany him. But the peace and tranquility he hopes to find proves elusive when he agrees to make the journey with his old school buddy Katz (Nick Nolte), a wisecracking, larger-than-life personality who is out of shape and arguably out of his mind. As the two men set off into the wilderness, they encounter an assortment of eccentric characters, wild animals and perilous weather in an epic journey that will test the limits of their friendship.

Review by Louise Keller:
The ripe chemistry between Robert Redford and Nick Nolte makes this hybrid adventure and buddy movie into a thoroughly enjoyable outing. Moreover, it is very funny, with as many laughs as there are mishaps on the Appalachian Trail, where the two characters decide hike. Based on travel writer Bill Bryson's memoir, director Ken Kwapis (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, He's Just Not That Into You) has created an entertaining film that delights in its sense of the ridiculous while grounding it by its confrontation of serious issues. It may not be as good as being there, but seeing and being immersed in the natural beauty of the vast landscape is also a treat.

A disastrous TV interview followed by a funeral is the springboard for successful, ageing travel writer Bryson (Redford) to make the decision to make a life change: he intends to hike the 2,100 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail. 'Even for you this is ridiculous,' his wife (Emma Thompson, wonderful) retorts, pointing out the numerous risks and potentially fatal hazards of such a venture.

Targeted at mature audiences, the tone is lightweight from the outset and while it might be predictable, the arrival of Nick Nolte as Bryson's old buddy Katz with whom he has had an on-off relationship for years, is a hoot. We know what is coming as Katz almost falls out of the small plane, overweight with a perpetually red face and a propensity for conversations about his numerous sexual exploits. He is clearly not fit; the bottle of whisky in his backpack is a worry and who knows what the journey will bring?

Then the road trip begins with annoying fellow travellers, freezing weather conditions, uncomfortable accommodation, an irate husband on the loose and an unexpected face to face with a brown grizzly. But as well as the laughs, there is also the exchanges between Bryson and Katz, who share confidences about their life and loves.

Take a walk in the woods - you'll be glad you did!

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

(US, 2015)

CAST: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal

PRODUCER: Chip Diggins, Bill Holderman, Robert Redford

DIRECTOR: Ken Kwapis

SCRIPT: Bill Holderman, Rick Kerb, Bill Bryson (memoir)


EDITOR: Julie Garces, Carol Littleton

MUSIC: Nathan Larson


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 3, 2015

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020