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Movie Review: Into the Wild

Alternate Title: King of the Road

Story: Those of you who read Jon Krakauer's fabulous book, Into the Wild, know, as I do that Christopher Johnson McCandless shed the outer trappings of family, society, possessions and expectations and walked into the wilderness. His adventure was unraveled, mystery style in the novel, by tracking down the people and places he had visited via bits of information. What started as a 9000 word article in Outdoor magazine in 1992, now has a cult following and is a major motion picture by director and writer Sean Penn.

That said, the movie's direction is not the same as the book and if you can wrap your head around that vision you will most likely enjoy large parts of the film.

Penn has focused on McCandless' adventurous spirit, courage, intelligence and ability to literally drop out and be as one with nature. Others might simply view him as a careless, thoughtless 23 year old who did a foolish thing. Whatever your view of this young man, you can admire some of the things he accomplished and you can surely admire the luscious scenery we get to enjoy on his fantastic adventure.

The good news is that the acting is terrific, the location shots are beautiful and I applaud someone who can drop the creature comforts of our consumer culture and simply walk away. The bad news is that it is overly long, occasionally trite and could have used about a twenty minute trim to tighten up the power of the film.

Acting: Emile Hirsch as McCandless is appealing, warm, has an award wining smile and Hollywood loves when an actor loses a lot of weight during a movie. The supporting cast is very good with special kudos to both William Hurt and Hal Holbrook. Marcia Gay Harden,Vince Vaughn,Catherine Keener, Brian Dierker, Jena Malone and Kristen Stewart all worked well too.

Predilection: I loved the book

Critters: There were far more critters than people in the film. Sadly, many of the critters ended up as the Food in the next category. We got to see, moose, birds, dogs, cats, cattle, bears and any other creature you might think you would see in the wild, including flies and larvae.

Food: See above.

Sex Spectrum: Male nudity seems to be the next big thing in Hollywood. Hirsch is seem (from a distance, in the nude, in the water). We also get to see some boobs and other body parts in a passing nudist colony. The act of sex, on the whole was absent - just implied.

Blatant Product Placement: Alaska

Soundtrack: Soaring and at times, sappy.

Opening Titles: Too many fonts were used in the opening titles.

Visual Art: We have quite a beautiful country.

Theater Audience: Mostly male except for my former Marathon buddy and me. We did feel like taking a long walk after the film.

Weather: Weather plays an important role in his survival.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0 - although some may find the moose scene a bit squirmy.

Drift Factor: I started to look at my watch after an hour.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Who knows?

Nit Picking: Penn added some unnecessary scenes into the film that added to the length but not the depth of the film.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some other Emile Hirsch films, try renting: Lords of Dogtown, Imaginary Heroes, The Emperor's Club and the very fine Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

Length: Almost 30 minutes over the two hour rule.