A lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first time.
Director: Craig Johnson
Writers: Daniel Clowes (graphic novel), Daniel Clowes (screenplay)
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Sandy Oian, Shaun Brown
You’ll likely be instantly familiar with the type of guy played by Woody Harrelson in “Wilson,” which debuted at Sundance: He’s the dude who sits down next to you on a plane or subway or park bench and proceeds to rattle on endlessly with zero need for input.
But Wilson (Harrelson) is more prickly than the average windbag monologist: In this enjoyable if slight comedy adapted by Dan Clowes (“Ghost World”) from his graphic novel and directed by Craig Johnson (“The Skeleton Twins”), he’s your friendly neighborhood misanthrope, a curmudgeon who can’t resist sharing his disgusted worldview with everyone he meets.
He disdains the modern world – technology is for suckers, small talk is heroically populist – while insulting everyone he meets.
Unsurprisingly, Wilson has few friends beyond his dog and his dad, and when the latter dies, he embarks on a mission to reconnect with his troubled, recovering addict ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern, who does troubled like nobody else), and discovers she gave their daughter up for adoption a decade and a half ago.
“Wilson” has much of the same everything-sucks humor that gave Clowes’ “Ghost World” such sardonic punch 15 years ago, and Harrelson has a ball delivering insults with that goofy grin on his face. Isabella Amara, as his teenage daughter Claire, is a spiritual sister to the emo teens of Clowes’ earlier work, and Judy Greer, Margo Martindale, Cheryl Hines and Brett Gelman are a game cast, mostly as straight women (and man) to Wilson’s nonstop torrent of righteous misanthropy.
“Wilson” doesn’t have the heft – or the narrative arc – of Johnson’s last film, but it does remind you how much fun it is to watch Harrelson. In real life, Wilson would just be a straight-up a-hole.
– Sara Stewart, New York Post