"Oh my – did I leave her behind at Jurassic Park?!" Pippi (Laura Dern) gets an unexpected surprise from her ex-husband/the titular character in a scene from Fox Searchlight's comedy/drama WILSON. Credit: Wilson Webb © 2017 Fox Searchlight Pictures. All rights reserved.

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Cheryl Hines, Isabella Amara and Judy Greer

WRITER(S): Daniel Clowes (screenplay and graphic novel on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): Craig Johnson


HERE'S THE STORY: Wilson (Woody Harrelson) is a misanthropic soul. He's got no family, his wife Pippi (Laura Dern) left him nearly two decades ago, his dad is dying and Pepper, his dog, is essentially his best friend. Thus, once he hears that Pippi is back in town from Los Angeles he's excited to find and see her. But, once Pippi reveals the baby he thought she aborted is actually alive, he's over the moon and can't wait to meet Claire (Isabella Amana).

However, when you seek out a teenage girl with more than her fair share of daddy and mommy issues among others, the reunion isn't going to come without problems ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Woody Harrelson fans; people who will enjoy watching Laura Dern play a very crass character

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who hate loveable losers movies where the character isn't as much lovable as they are pitiful; Laura Dern fans who are not used to her playing a crass character; people annoyed by characters that are too juvenile for their own good. 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? You know that co-worker (usually male) at your job that is a well-meaning person, but is just flat out annoying? You know the one – wants everyone to be their friend, strikes up conversation at random outta nowhere, crosses personal boundaries, is way too blunt for their own good and has ridiculous ideas. The guy who you know is in for a world of hurt but the only way he's gonna learn is by screwing up royally and being forced to grow up?

Oh, you don't? I guess you've decided to skip the 90 minute annoyance that is Wilson – which is the best movie decision you can make this weekend.

First things first, having read some of the Wilson graphic novel, there was a lot of potential for this film to be funny and have some heart, which would in turn make Harrelson's character more empathetic. While it's really hard to criticize Harrelson's performance as you know he's giving it his all, but the dry humor of the comic does NOT translate to the big screen. You're never laughing with Wilson, nor are you ever laughing at him. You're just feeling embarrassed for him. 

Likewise, the graphic novel version of Wilson features the character acting like less of a man-child than his big screen counterpart. While the graphic novel character is lonely, he's also less of an outright idealistic idiot. The same can't be said for Harrelson's version, a guy who is clearly trying to somehow grab onto the family he never had as a child nor now as an adult, but his actions don't inspire sympathy or empathy, just pity and restraining orders. Then again, considering original director Alexander Payne (known for his dark humor treatments) dropped out of the project, it's probably that Wilson lost a lot of the original style, comedy and panache that was originally envisioned for the project. 

Despite Harrelson's best efforts to make you care about Wilson, you just ... Don't. Most of what happens to him, he brings upon himself despite all the signs clearly pointing to him knowing better or knowing what will happen if he does not. But yet, he plods on to the point where the only one who enjoys Wilson is Wilson. Sure, things might eventually turn around (I'm not going to say for certain in case you still decide to see the movie), but if they do, what are the chances it's because he did something right for a change?

And that's a shame – because both Wilson the character and Wilson the film deserve better ... Probably.



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