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Just the other day I had the privilege of watching A Walk in the Woods, the movie adaptation of the book by the same name. I managed to rack up $5 in library fines in the process, but by gum, I did it! Another aside — I had to find a time to watch it when little ears wouldn’t be around to hear all of the f-bombs that I knew I’d be hearing.
For those of you who have never read the book, this is a story about an older man’s quest to hike the Appalachian Trail. He and a friend use the opportunity to have one last hurrah, as it were. If you want to know more about what I thought of the book, check out my book review.
First, you should know that I absolutely loved the book! That means that I was starting from a place of already being in love with the story and the author. When following a beloved story with a movie, it can be difficult to live up to the high expectations that the reader/viewer already has.
As you know, something is lost when you translate a book into film, and this was no exception. The movie left out the charm and wit of Bryson’s storytelling, as well as his asides on topics such as the National Forest Service, etc. If you’ve read the book, this is a nice way to visualize the story and see the embodiment of the characters. If you watch the movie without reading the book, just know that you are getting the short end of the stick. The book is so much more complex, nuanced, clever and lovely. Another thing that just doesn’t come through in the movie is the stink, sweat, toil, fatigue and monotony that was a part of the trail life. For all of those juicy details you’ll have to pick up the book.
I didn’t care for the way Bill’s wife was portrayed in the movie as being unsupportive. In reality she was actually very supportive and helped Bill with many aspects of the journey. However, I think they may have changed her character to give the story some conflict. On the other side of the coin, we have Katz whose character was magical. Nick Nolte was a wonderfully grizzled, unsophisticated and crass Katz. I loved his way of talking and that he threw in the expletives in an unobtrusive manner. Katz’s dry, sardonic sense of humor comes through really well, too.
There are a few objectionable aspects to the film which you should know about. In one scene we briefly see Nick Nolte’s derrière from afar. There’s also regular talk about things of a sexual nature, including a short scene with implied fellatio. Other than that, the foul language is the most pervasive objectionable aspect.
I recommend this movie to adults who enjoy a low-key, humorous movie about aging. While the story isn’t anything to write home about, the delivery is amusing. I feel like a group of older friends would get a kick out of watching this together.
- Brief partial nudity
- Sexual references
- Lots of foul language (mostly from Katz)
Rating: 4 Stars
Until next time…
OTHER A WALK IN THE WOODS POSTS:
- A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson