You’d think that casting Robert Redford as American travel-writer-extraordinaire Bill Bryson, in an adaptation of one of his popular books, would guarantee a good film. Well, add a shambling, incoherent Nick Nolte and a woefully misused Emma Thompson, and you’d be wrong.
The first mistake is, funnily enough, casting Redford who essentially plays himself and relieves you of any possible suspension of disbelief that he’s not the bearded, avuncular Bryson. As Robert, sorry, Bill sets off on an ill-advised but plucky trek of the Appalachian Trail with an old friend from decades prior, we’re subjected to scenes of slapstick comedy (think: old men trying to cross a river), crude anecdotes (don’t bother to think about that one) and the improbable and inexplicable notion that Nolte’s character might be attractive to even a desperate woman in a Laundromat.
Barring an admittedly hilarious cameo from Flight of the Conchords’ Kristen Schaal (who is priceless though not quite worth the ticket price alone), the gentlemen’s exploits, as with their meaningless and unaffecting exchanges, are cringy and ultimately quite dull. If the film is anything to go on, Bryson should have done as his wife bid and stayed home.