Writers: Bil Bryson, Michael Arndt, Rick Kerb
Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Nick Offerman, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal
More info: IMDb
Plot: When an aging travel writer sets out to hike the 2,100-mile-long Appalachian Trail with a long-estranged high school buddy, the duo learn that some roads are better left untraveled.
My rating: 7/10
Will I watch it again? Nah.
This was the first film of day 2 at Sundance for me this year and it was also the film's world premiere. Essentially there are three main characters in the picture, Bryson (Redford), Katz (Nolte) and the Appalachian Mountains and all three have moments of greatness except for the mountains which never fails to impress. Nolte is hilarious. It's been a while since I saw one of his more recent pictures (except for GANGSTER SQUAD (2012)) and he's looking and sounding rough; but that helps in this film. Redford and Thompson mostly do a fine job but they each have moments when they display those family film expressions that look like they're acting more outward than inward. It's hard to explain without showing clips or even images but you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it. It might sound like a silly thing to point out but it happened enough to take me out of the picture for a moment or two. Both of these actors otherwise do very well. The story plays out nicely but it felt conflicted with its mix of drama and humor. There are times it works well but then you get some really silly moments like when they stand up in their tents to frighten the bears. Since this is based on actual events I will give them the benefit of the doubt that this scene is very similar to how it really happened but it's the way it's shot that feels like it's crossing a genre line rather than present it as something that, if it happened to you, it would be far too frightening at the moment but it would be something you could laugh about ten minutes after you're completely safe and you laugh to subside the adrenaline rush. Oh, and there's the often used trope of shitty communication. Katz has a small bottle of unopened booze in his pack and he'd told Bryson that he quit drinking. After weeks on the trail, Bryson discovers the bottle and confronts Katz with it, condemning him yet Katz says nothing until much later (not in the film but in what it would be in real time). It's only done that way to drum up some drama but it's phony and it's one more device that takes away from the potency of the film. Some folks I talked to bitched about the ending. I didn't care for it at first but it grew on me the more I thought about it. It might've been handled a little better so as not to seem like a WTF, why did you do that kind of moment. Overall, if you see this you'll want to see it on the biggest screen possible to take advantage of the absolutely gorgeous scenery.