After attending a funeral, sixty-year-old Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) decides he should walk the 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail. When his wife (Emma Thompson) refuses to let him go alone, he places ‘want ads’ out to his friends – who all turn him down. But then there’s the long lost friend, Katz (the real-life impetuosity that is Nick Nolte), who agrees to go along on the journey with him.
While there are plenty of buddy movies – and movies about grumpy old buddies – A Walk in the Woods has a sweet way of wrapping the reality of life up with humor, excitement, and deep thoughts about what it means to be human, to age, and to be a friend. Without much knowledge about Bill Bryson, the film delivered a way of seeing him as an every man (an observant one), while also calling to action Redford’s environmentalism.
Special features here look at the Appalachian Trail, the cast of oldies but goodies, and, of course, outtakes. But the heart of the story remains about friendship that grows over time, and our examination of the world around us in a way that isn’t completely consumeristic. This is the story of Eden, isn’t it? It’s the way everything was meant to be before we allowed our greed and selfishness to get in the way.
But then there’s this nugget from the movie. Sure, Bryson sets out to walk the trail. After all, everyone has goals, aspirations, and motivations. Along the way though, he sees that it’s more than the journey; it’s the experience, the friendship, the wonder. That’s what I want to wrap my mind and heart around, because it’s the lesson we need whether it’s about a day with our kids or realizing that yes, heaven is radical, but we’re called to live this life, moment by moment, in the best way we can, too.
Hats off to Redford and Nolte for a laugh out loud flick that provoked my heart, too.