Edward Asner and Jason London in Out of the Woods (2005)

A Town Called Yodder

When L.A. lawyer Matt Fleming (Jason London) gets a call from his mum he is surprised to learn that his Grandpa Jack Green (Edward Asner) has been buying up acres of woodland near a town called Yodder and handing them over to the Native Indians. With his mum concerned about her inheritance being lost Matt heads to Yodder to serve papers on his Grandpa to put a stop to his spending but finds himself immediately out foxed by the old man who has discovered the joy of living is in its simplicity and plans to show his grandson before it is too late. But for city slicker Matt he not only finds a life with no cell phones or electricity mad but also thinks his Grandpa has gone mad as well.

As you watch "Out of the Woods" you go through various feelings, initially you feel like this is a typical Hallmark Channel movie about a young man caught up in his city life learning what is important from his Grandpa who lives a simpler life in the woods. As you spot this familiarity you then think to yourself well it's a bit corny with its less than subtle "Star Wars" references as it is set in a town called Yodder, the Grandpa moves around slowly like Yoda and speaks in a series of riddles as he ends up mentoring his grandson. But then thanks to the performances of Edward Asner and Jason London the emotion of the story gets you and whilst you know that it is part cliche, part corny "Out of the Woods" ends up 100% charming, simple and refreshing entertainment.

Melissa Lahlitah Crider in Out of the Woods (2005)

So at its heart "Out of the Woods" is a familiar movie which reworks a few often used TV movie cliches. You know that when city slicker Matt ends up at Jack's lodge in the middle of the woods he will end up going through a transformation and so whilst initially there to serve papers will end up understanding not only what his Grandpa was up to but will have fallen in love with his way of life. Talking of love if I say that Matt has a high maintenance city girlfriend but meets the sweet Gwen, a single mum, whilst he spends time in Yodder you can guess that Matt will find more than one sort of love. Basically beneath all the dressing the basic storyline to "Out of the Woods" is a familiar and for the most obvious one.

Now as for that dressing well this is where "Out of the Woods" strangely seems to be having fun with a bit of a homage to the "Star Wars" movies. From Jack's lodge being near the back water town of Yodder to him walking and talking like Yoda as he imparts wisdom to Matt it feels like writer Jeff Schechter was trying to either be clever or pay homage. The strange thing is that the immediate feeling when you hear Matt trying to find Yodder and we see Jack walk in a rocking side to side motion is that it is a bit corny but then it actually grows on you and ends up strangely engaging.

The thing is that "Out of the Woods" is technically cliche and a bit corny but by the time it ends it will have charmed its way into your heart. It is basically just good honest entertainment which says life doesn't have to be complicated to enjoy it and it gets that across without ending up feeling too cheesy. And it achieves this because of the performances most notably those of Edward Asner and Jason London who both deliver actual characters rather than just delivering their lines. Both the characters of Jack and Matt are engaging and it is why you take them into your heart especially Edward Asner's Matt with his simple living and mischievous ways.

What this all boils down to is that "Out of the Woods" is a typical TV movie, a typical drama of a Grandpa and Grandson bonding whilst the Grandson learns that there is more to life than work. It is by no means perfect, a bit of a rushed ending spoils things slightly but the performances and the writing make it a TV movie which has plenty of charm and when you watch it you will feel like you want to watch it again.