Harrelson stars as Wilson, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged misanthrope who reunites with his estranged wife (Laura Dern) and gets a shot at happiness when he learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara) he has never met. In his uniquely outrageous and slightly twisted way, he sets out to connect with her. Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
We all want people to love us for exactly who we are but that's not really possible in this world because we're just all too unbearable. You know, we gotta make the best of what we have.
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If anything Wilson, the story of a lonely middle-aged man reuniting
with his estranged wife to meet his daughter for the first time,
accomplishes something no movie has ever done. It manages to take Woody
Harrelson, a jewel of the large and small screen, and make him wholly
unlikable. This is no easy feat, especially considering that his
character's only real crime is being a watered-down Marc Maron
caricature. The man cavalierly ponders the big questions and graciously
oozes cookie cutter wisdom to anyone within earshot. He thinks he's
being avuncular but really he's just being really, really annoying.
This problem extends to the film itself. It thinks it's intelligent and
it thinks it's giving us earth-shattering insights into the human
condition. It lazily employs an unstructured narrative of
Wilson-centric coming-of-age clichés and pads its screen time with
tonally discordant moments that fly at you fast then disappear without
consequence. The results is a frustrating soup of characters,
conflicts, themes and rickety-old shtick that goes no where and
Of course this could be the point; the movie purports to be about life.
Ergo, if life is messy then so is this movie. Yet the films total lack
of focus seeps to its DNA with scenes and plot points that announce
themselves as loudly as possible and climax too quickly. In one scene,
Wilson (Harrelson) learns that his only two friends (Rajskub and
Gelman) are moving to St. Louis. He doesn't take it well, prodding them
until they erupt in what felt like years of pent-up frustration. It's a
good little scene but we're never given any time to savor it before the
movie switches gears like the slides of a carousel projector.
And at the front giving the presentation is Wilson who, for better or
worse is the smartest person in the film. No one dares call him out on
his bulls**t, especially not Pippi (Dern) his wife who's just barely
keeping things together after a series of bad life choices. At times,
she reacts like a prisoner to Wilson's somewhat terrifying mid-life
crisis. But by the end of the story she succumbs to the idea that her
surly former lover may just be wiser beyond his year.
Yeah no, the man's a petulant, mean-spirited, less clever, less
literate Bukowski character made near-flesh by someone who saw a Woody
Allen movie once and thought, "gee, how can I take out all this pesky
pithiness." I guess in that regard Wilson can be accredited for one
more accomplishment. It managed to make the daily struggle of a
middle-aged white man and make it appear trivial and redundant.
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