‘Wilson’ can’t overcome its titular character’s flaws

Wilson (2017)

Directed by Craig Johnson

Graphic novelist Daniel Clowes found success with the screenplays for his first two movie adaptations, “Ghost World” and “Art School Confidential,” both directed by Terry Zwigoff. They’re acquired tastes, to be sure, but they have something valuable to offer if you give them a chance (“Ghost World” even earned him and Zwigoff an Oscar nomination). “Wilson,” starring a chatty, unlikable, and offensively unfunny Woody Harrelson, does not show any of the promise of Clowes’s first two adaptations. At all.

After his dad dies and his only real friend moves out of the state, Wilson (Woody Harrelson) decides he needs to reevaluate his life. He loves his tiny apartment and the dog he’s had forever, but he needs to get out more, broaden his horizons. When he hears that his ex-wife (Laura Dern) has moved back to the area, he decides to reach out, despite the rumors that she had become a crack-addicted prostitute. When he finds her, she has a surprise for him.

Wilson’s anti-millennial sentiments (you know, the whole “Kids need to get off their damn phones and get a job” shtick) and sore attempts at humor make him, from the start, a deeply unlikable character. When you start a movie—especially one named after its main character—with a main character that nobody likes, it’s very difficult to recover from. When you make nearly every other character almost as unlikable, you have no hope. Wilson is socially awkward and generally rude to every single person he comes into contact with. He has no friends, and it’s too easy to see why. And despite the hardships Wilson faces throughout the movie and the lessons we think he might learn, he ends almost the same person, in his soul, as when we met him. The inflatable volleyball from “Castaway” is a more well-rounded Wilson. The only lesson I learned from “Wilson” is that no matter how you think or what you want, the world will go on as if you didn’t exist. Your input doesn’t matter, and your entire existence barely registers in the grand scheme of things. Wilson can complain all he wants, but life will go on and it won’t care what he thinks about its constant progress. In the end, we’ll all be forgotten. Just, hopefully not as quickly as “Wilson.”


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