DVD Movie Review: Wilson
Date Viewed: July 5 2017
Directed By Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins)
Screenplay By Daniel Clowes, Based on his graphic novel
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Isabella Amara, Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines, Margo Martindale, David Warshofsky, Brett Gelman, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Lauren Weedman.
Woody Harrelson is a terrific actor who can play lots of different kinds of characters but "Wilson" is such a stark, crass and uncomfortable lout of a character. The movie is based on the satirical graphic novel from "Ghost World" creator Daniel Clowes who also scripted. "Wilson" is a lonely, neurotic and painfully honest individual who hates the Internet as well as other plagues of modern society. Harrelson delivers a solid performance as the title character but the character brings out so much sentiment and cringe-worthy moments it's so hard to care about this guy.
As I mentioned earlier, Wilson (Harrelson) is a lonely, neurotic and painfully honest guy who struggles to make friends and he can't take the Internet as well as our modern society. Wilson's only friend is a wire fox terrier dog named Pepper. The plot moves along when Wilson reunites with his estranged ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern) who's a former prostitute and recovering addict. She tells Wilson that the baby he thought she aborted 17 years ago is still very much alive and well. The baby grew up to be Claire (Isabella Amara), a goth high-schooler who's depressed with her life because she's a complete outcast and she gets teased daily by her popular schoolmates.
This wonderful news delights Wilson and he explores a chance to connect with her. When Wilson and Pippi finally meet their daughter for the very first time, he persuades Claire to give him a chance to explain why he and her mother weren't there for her for all these years. Claire becomes shocked at the news at first but then she grows a little affection for him. Wilson, Pippi and Claire spent some quality time together and they even play pretend family when they come to visit Pippi's overbearingly, hyper-critical sister, Polly (Cheryl Hines).
After seeing through that their daughter isn't actually theirs, Polly calls the police on Wilson and the judge slaps him with a prison sentence of 36 months for alleged kidnapping. What kidnapping? The guy was only being friendly and getting along with his biological daughter? Alleged kidnapping gives you jail time in a maximum-security prison but tampering with national security information and destroying 33,000 emails doesn't. When will U.S. democracy ever learn?
The film tries so hard to be edgy, emotional and hilarious, it completely turns sour. From "White Men Can't Jump" to "The People vs. Larry Flynt" to "The Messenger" to the "Hunger Games" movies and to last year's wonderful "The Edge of Seventeen", Woody Harrelson has always been one of our most entertaining, energetic, funny and amazing actors working today but despite his best efforts here why should we root for this dry motormouth? Laura Dern, Cheryl Hines and Judy Greer who plays Wilson's dogsitter aren't given enough to do but Isabella Amara shines as Claire who contains the same cynical-towards-everybody outlook just like Wilson.
Directed by Craig Johnson who previously helmed 2014's "The Skeleton Twins" which became a critical hit at Sundance and starred Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, "Wilson" might've gone into interesting places but the movie doesn't know where to take him or Woody Harrelson for that matter. If nobody likes being around with "Wilson", why should we?