One thing’s for certain: “Wilson” is unlike very many other films out there. Oh, yes, its titular character is a male without the social skills of a Bic — and we’re talking pen, not lighter. Wilson is a man without boundaries or understanding or couth, and, yet, there’s something about him. Maybe that’s because Woody Harrelson portrays Wilson. Harrelson owns him. Harrelson transcends all tendency toward writing off the man — at least, from the perspective of an audience staring at Wilson in two dimensions only. Anybody who lives with a Wilson — or a Sheldon Cooper — knows that life with these misfits falls far from funny often. Read on…
Wilson, according to his manifesto in the opening voice over, like to make contact with people. So he’s the dork who sits right next to you on the bus despite many open seats. He’s the doofus who strikes up a conversation with people plugged into their phones. He’s the divorce whose ex-wife gets your sympathy.
Wilson contacts that ex-wife, Pippi, discovers he has a daughter, Claire, and invades everyone’s space clumsily. But Wilson wants this family badly — and that’s how he goes about getting it.
The story by Daniel Clowes is based on his graphic novel. That source shows in how episodically the film moves and in the highs and the slow lows. At one point, you’re laughing in embarrassment; at another, you’re pretty sure you should be keening. Mostly, you’re just trying to get out of the way as fancy crashes into reality.
But you cannot — and should not — take your eyes off Harrelson, nor your ears. Watch his reactions, and watch his walk, too. He is well supported by Laura Dern and in cameos from Margo Martindale, Brett Gelman, Judy Greer, Roxy Wood, and Laura Dern. But “Wilson” is Woody Harrelson all the way.
This is Martha K. Baker with a KDHX film review of “Wilson.”