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'A Walk in the Woods' review: Robert Redford and Nick Nolte take a hike

Robert Redford has always proved the maxim (which we are making up right now) that just because you're good-looking doesn't mean you can't act. He has proved it more than once, most recently with "All Is Lost" (2013), a virtual one-man show. In "A Walk in the Woods," he shows he can still play well with others.

One other, particularly: Nick Nolte, who, as the lifelong reprobate Stephen Katz, accompanies Redford's Bill Bryson on the Appalachian Trail, a trip that is as funny as it is unwise, and an acting partnership that may seem highly unlikely but turns out to be chemically correct. Based on the real-life Bryson's travel memoir of 1998, and a movie Redford had been trying to get made since 2004 (and had first envisioned as a project for himself and Paul Newman), "A Walk in the Woods" is about age and maturity and how they're not necessarily connected.

When the footloose Bryson decides he needs to clear out the post-midlife cobwebs by hiking the AT -- which stretches 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine -- his understandably bewildered wife (Emma Thompson) says if you must. But you can't go alone. To her relief, Bryson can't find anyone nuts enough to devote six months or more to a physical ordeal that would tax a man a third of Bryson's age. And then the even more unfit Katz -- with whom Bryson fell out years before -- rises to the challenge. So to speak.

"Walk" is essentially a road/buddy movie and as such is quirkily episodic. One chapter involves Bryson's preparation for his trip and purchasing of equipment from an obsessive clerk (Nick Offerman) at a camping store; there's a hiker (Kristen Schaal) whom Katz and Bryson can't seem to shake or get to shut up; and the owner of a trailside motel (Mary Steenburgen), with whom a few sparks fly with Bryson. Directed by Ken Kwapis ("The Office," "Parks and Recreation"), "A Walk in the Woods" -- between the glorious vistas of the Appalachian Trail and the less-exalted pictures of Redford and Nolte lumbering northward -- has barely a dull moment.

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