A Walk in the Woods

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
A Walk in the Woods Movie Poster Image
Likable "old guy" comedy has great vistas, strong language.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages older people to get out and try things, and encourages people in general to see life in new ways -- i.e. that sometimes things aren't quite so black and white as we might think.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are highly flawed, but it's admirable that they try something challenging at an age when they might be less likely to go outside their comfort zone.

Violence

Angry man bangs on doors with a baseball bat. Falls from ledges. Chases. Pratfalls. Bears.

Sex

Strong innuendo, verbal sexual references, stories about sex. A couple kiss in a car; she disappears below the seat to give him (implied) oral sex. Flirting. Panties shown. A married man resists flirtations.

Language

Strong, fairly frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "blow job."

Consumerism

K-Mart is featured prominently in one sequence. A Google search is shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Minor characters drink and drive. A character is a recovering alcoholic. He has a bottle of whisky, but resists drinking it. References to getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Walk in the Woods is a dramedy -- based on Bill Bryson's nonfiction book -- about two older men (played by Robert Redford and Nick Nolte) who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. Language is the biggest issue, with frequent uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as strong sexual references/innuendo and stories of sexual exploits. An amorous couple kisses while driving a car, and she disappears below the seat to (it's implied) perform oral sex. There's some flirting, and a man gets in trouble with a married woman's husband, who wields a baseball bat. Characters fall off ledges, there's some arguing, and bears wander into a campsite. One character is a recovering alcoholic and tells stories of being drunk; he carries a bottle of whisky, but doesn't drink it. Minor characters are shown drinking and driving.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTollywoodcelebrities December 29, 2015
Tollywood Celebrities
Parent of a 17 and 18+ year old Written byJohn Lang June 15, 2016

Great potential, but ultimately disappointing

The story line has great potential, and I was waiting the whole time for the movie and acting to live up to that potential, but unfortunately it never did. Too... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byStevie111 September 25, 2015

Boring "Comedy" that I didn't find very entertaining

I didn't think this film was all that well made or entertaining. I thought it was a bit too dramatic and and not very funny. It had a couple humorous parts... Continue reading

What's the story?

After living all over the world, travel writer Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) finds himself back in the United States, semi-retired, giving inane TV interviews and attending one funeral too many. He decides to hike the 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail, despite warnings that he's too old and could die. His wife (Emma Thompson) agrees, on the condition that he not go alone; the only friend crazy enough to volunteer for the adventure is grizzled ex-alcoholic Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte). On their journey, the two hikers encounter everything from rain, snow, and mud to annoying fellow hikers, angry husbands, hungry bears, and tricky ledges. But they also find a few majestic places and quiet moments that remind them of what it means to be alive.

Is it any good?

While this movie could have been an overly earnest drama or an embarrassing slapstick farce, it settles somewhere comfortably in between. It's inconsequential, but it should please fans of codger comedies. Director Ken Kwapis, a veteran of TV series and lightweight comedies, mainly keeps things on an even keel. Even if Kristen Schaal (as an annoying hiker) and Susan McPhail (as a cheating wife) are witless diversions, the movie usually veers back on the trail quickly enough.

Potential dramatic pitfalls are handled lightly or simply left behind. The wonderful Mary Steenburgen plays a hotel proprietress who makes eyes at Bryson, and Katz has a close call with an alcoholic episode. The movie's strength is in the relationship between the two men, with Nolte's comically gruff performance providing the anchor. They sometimes argue and other times share memories, but their bond is largely unexplained and unspoken.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how A Walk in the Woods portrays its main characters. Why do you think there are so few movies and TV shows that feature older characters? Teens: Does seeing a mostly 60-and-up cast make you not want to see a movie? Why?

  • How does Nick Nolte's character deal with his alcoholism? Does his method make sense? When is it OK for kids to watch movies with drinking, drugs, and smoking?

  • Do you think that the characters "cheated," or did they really get something out of their experience? What's the benefit of finishing the entire trail rather than experiencing part of it? Why is it important to try new things, at every age?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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