Wilson Movie Review
Socially awkward covers a wide range of personality types that earn that label for various reasons. For Wilson, the social awkwardness is his lack of respect for other’s personal space. He believes people don’t talk enough anymore and is the guy who sits down next to you on an empty train, or even at a cafe full of empty tables when you could be clearly preoccupied with work or personal things. Wilson will go so far as to nudge or talk to a person listening to head phones or even sleeping and if you choose not to converse with him, he’ll let you have it. He’s the guy who will use the urinal right next to yours even though the rest of the latrines are not in use. He might even strike up a conversation during this personal time of relieving one’s self. At his lowest, Wilson is not above a fender bender, rear ending another person in a minor car accident just for a chance to ask you out.
Lonely and neurotic, Wilson isn’t a bad guy but his poor decisions sometimes are very bad. And not being a bad guy doesn’t necessarily mean Wilson is a likable guy. Thankfully Woody Harrelson plays the title role in WILSON, bringing the character some much needed charisma and likability no matter how grating his character can be. After reuniting with his estranged wife, Pippi, played by Laura Dern, Wilson learns he has a daughter that Pippi put up for adoption sixteen years ago. Overcome with joy, the usually surly and cynical Wilson, sets out to meet and befriend his newly discovered teenage daughter.
Based on the graphic novel by the same name, WILSON is created by writer Daniel Clowes who also adapted 2001’s GHOST WORLD from his graphic novel. Director Craig Johnson, who recently made a name for himself with 2014’s SKELETON TWINS starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, does an admirable job with another low key observational comedy. WILSON plays out like several mini episodes, quickly jumping from one scenario to the next and wisely skipping over large portions that are sad or even disturbing. When placing yourself in the reality of the situation, many of the things that happen to or because of Wilson, aren’t that funny and might even be hard to handle for some viewers. Director Johnson wisely cuts away before the impact of the situation is ever felt. Somehow most of these moments have a certain humor or charm to the situation that relaxes the viewer from ever thinking about the emotional consequences. The physical violence plays more like a funniest home videos joke. Wilson doesn’t get away free from his bad decisions and is usually punished quite severely but edited into a punch line rather than a dramatic punch to the stomach.
Charming and passably entertaining, WILSON is on the cusp of being very good but has an unevenness that keeps it below that bar landing somewhere between decent and okay. The idea and character is worth exploring for those who are interested but the film is missing that overwhelming sense of satisfaction. WILSON is definitely not for everyone and possibly unbearable for some, but for those who appreciate an interesting, generally funny, and mostly awkward character study or enjoy the work of Woody Harrelson along with a strong supporting cast, I think WILSON is worth checking out.