WILSON — Review by Susan Granger

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Based on Daniel Clowes’ 2010 graphic novel, this dark comedy revolves around an eccentric, middle-aged misanthrope who lives in a shabby apartment with Pepper, his engaging wire fox terrier, and is prone to befriend and then brusquely criticize strangers when they’re out for a walk. After his father dies of cancer and his only friend moves away, irascible Wilson (Woody Harrelson), who is far too forthright and honest, makes a half-hearted attempt to socialize, mentioning to a lonely companion (Margo Martindale) that he misses his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern), who left him 17 years ago. Read on…

Leaving Pepper with Shelly (Judy Greer), a sweet-natured dog-sitter, he re-connects with Pippi, who has conquered her crack addiction and is now working as a waitress. Warily, she informs him that the baby he thought she aborted and gave up for adoption is now a teenager.
After some sleuthing, Wilson and Pippi track down now-17-year-old Claire (Isabella Amara), who is living in a nearby suburb with her adoptive parents.

“Why the hell do people move to the suburbs?” Wilson muses. “It’s like a living death.”

Stalking overweight, alienated Claire at the mall, Wilson watches her being bullied by classmates and chooses that bizarre moment to introduce himself, noting: “I’m sure they picked on Copernicus…it’s a badge of honor.”

Stunned, Claire, who is dressed in black and obviously also an outsider, rolls her eyes and backs off. But she’s intrigued enough to join Wilson and Pippi for a disastrous weekend trip to visit Pippi’s judgmental sister Polly (Cheryl Hines).
Superficially adapted by Daniel Clowes (author of “Ghost World”) and clumsily directed by Craig Johnson (“The Skeleton Twins”), it’s memorable mostly for Woody Harrelson’s ineffable charm and multi-faceted performance. Despite his scowl, the twinkle in his eye begs forgiveness for a multitude of sins.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Wilson” is an edgy, quirky 5, reminding us about the importance of integrity.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.