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Hollywood Movie "Wilson" Review & Summary 2017-BoomsPK

 “Don’t you want to see her in the flesh?”
“What do you want to do? Stalk her??”

“Wilson” (2017):

What do you know? Two good comedies in a row, and it only took half of the year to finally happen.

Small victories.


I feel in order to appreciate “Wilson” the film, one also must appreciate Wilson the character, and I bring this up because he is not a One-Size-Fits-All kind of guy. A comedy based on a graphic novel (do not get to say that very often), the film almost demands that the audience attempt to deconstruct Wilson during the early portions of the First Act, and the only conclusion I came up with was that Wilson is a living, breathing contradiction. He introduces himself from the start with an inner monologue explaining that (and I’m paraphrasing) when we’re children life is this beaming, joyful opportunity just waiting to be realized, only to find out when we become full adults that all that youthful aspiration is a pile of sh*t waiting to hit you in the face. Wilson gives the impression that he’s been through the meat grinder and is now this curmudgeon of a man, only to behave the complete opposite when he’s out and about.

See, not only is Wilson a contradiction to himself, but also to the world around him; he still has a sense of naïve wonder, doesn’t believe in technology, and tries to connect with all humanity by striking up often awkward conversations with perfect strangers in an effort to interact while also being brutally honest. Yet, at the same time, he has this charm that can be rather endearing, sort of like that relative you only see at family reunions that you can’t help but love and want to kill at the same time. Picture the soul and childlike innocence of Forrest Gump with the mouth and crass of a “South Park” character, and you’ll be fairly close to what and who Wilson is as a person.

Now that the character introduction is out of the way, it’s time to discuss “Wilson” the film, and the story begins with Wilson (Woody Harrelson) learning that his best and only friend is moving away and his estranged father is about to die from cancer. Out of fear of becoming entirely isolated and lonely, Wilson starts to seek out his ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern), to see if she would be interested in rekindling their romance after she opted to abort their child and leave him seventeen years ago. He is able to track her down and discovers she is waitressing in an effort to get back on the straight and narrow path after a long stint of prostitution. The two begin to catch up, and Pippi breaks the news to Wilson after spending the night together that she actually did not have an abortion seventeen years ago and that Wilson has a daughter who is alive and well. Instead of resenting Pippi for lying to him, Wilson is over the moon to learn that he is a father, so to speak, and hatches a plan to track his daughter down for him and Pippi to finally meet her. Obviously, this is a sweet gesture on paper but kind of creepy in execution, and although Pippi recognizes this almost immediately, she reluctantly tags along in tow of Wilson’s infectious optimism. Eventually, the pair does find their daughter, Claire (Isabella Amara), and discover she’s an outcast at school and somewhat emotionally neglected at home which makes them want to be around her even more. Whilst initially uncomfortable, Claire eventually sees Wilson and Pippi as harmless and agrees to tag along with them and their efforts to bond, and so the misadventures of the Family That Never Was begins for the remainder of the movie.

Off the bat, I knew this type of role would be a walk in the park for Harrelson considering he has dabbled in multiple different shades of comedy, and he was simply perfect again for this part. Everything from his mannerisms to his gracefully straight-faced delivery of Wilson’s dry humor was exactly what you’d expect from Harrelson this deep into his career. Laura Dern, on the other hand, I wasn’t as sure what to expect in a setting like this one as Pippi the Ex-Prostitute. That’s not to say Dern isn’t dynamic, in fact, I believe she’s an excellent and often underrated actress, but at the same time, I’ve only been accustomed to seeing her play parts that are more serious in tone. Fortunately, not only does she make Pippi a believable character, Dern likewise has an interesting sort of chemistry with Harrelson in that pseudo-romantic way that I honestly could not picture them having in a feature other than this one. In a manner of speaking, the duo is so dysfunctional in their own ways that to see them both help each other and stick together is nothing short of endearing, in my opinion.

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Despite his quirks, complexities, and odd likability, if there’s one thing Wilson lacks as far as this film is concerned, it’s depth as a character, and I attribute that more to the writing than anything else. Granted, early on, the narrative talks about how Wilson’s mother died at a young age and he was never incredibly close to his father, and that can certainly contribute to his present tense personality, but I’m having trouble accepting that as the entire basis behind his immaturity. The problem this creates for the story and the pacing of the film is that, due to a set of circumstances foreseen by probably everybody except him, Wilson goes through a bit of a “Coming of Age” awakening in the Third Act that is supposed to be significant to his arc, and instead creates a rushed, hollow ending for the sake of a clean resolution; in other words, the world of Wilson feels incomplete, and thusly, imbalanced. No matter how easy it is to adhere to a character, it is still nonetheless difficult to fully buy into their ascension without proper context.

Otherwise, that’s about there is to cover. “Wilson” is a far-from-perfect film that does follow a rather familiar formula, but it does offer enough of a twist to give it some enjoyable new flavor. Additionally, as the risk goes with darker comedies such as this, sometimes the envelope is pushed just for that reason alone and the humor that had been working before gets a little flat from time-to-time. Be that as it may, Harrelson and Dern were a lot of fun to watch, and I found myself smiling and laughing with them throughout a majority of the way, so I cannot help but recommend it.

“Wilson”: 8/10
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