Harrelson gets under moviegoers’ skins

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Three stars

Director Craig Johnson

Starring Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer

Rating MA 15+

Running time 94 minutes

Verdict By the (comic) book

WILSON, the motormouthed misanthrope Woody Harrelson plays in this workmanlike adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel, is an acquired taste.

Aggressively needy, direct to the point of being social inappropriate, it’s hardly surprising that Wilson hasn’t been in a relationship since his tempestuous wife Pippi (Laura Dern) walked out.

When he hears she’s back in town, Wilson decides to track her down. And because neither of them has a better idea, they wind up back together (after a considerable among of groundwork by the title character).


media_cameraLaura Dern and Woody Harrelson reunite in Wilson. Picture: Wilson Webb / Twentieth Century Fox

The dynamic of their relationship changes when Wilson learns he has a teenager daughter.

For him, parenthood represents a second chance. Pippi reluctantly comes along for the ride.

Wilson hires a private detective to help him locate their adopted child, Claire (Isabella Amara), who turns out to be an angry, overweight goth with an extremely tart tongue.

After a bumpy start, Claire bonds with Wilson, a kindred spirit … until his sister-in-law dobs him in to her adoptive parents who have him jailed for kidnapping.

Strangely, prison smooths off some of Wilson’s rough edges. And that’s where the film really tests our credulity.


media_cameraHarrelson is well cast as the mouthy misfit. Picture: Wilson Webb / Twentieth Century Fox

Harrelson would appear to be a perfect fit for the middle-aged misfit, who follows in the tradition of Paul Giamatti’s Harvey Pekar (in American Splendour) or Steve Buscemi’s Seymour (in Ghost World, another Clowes adaptation, with Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson).

And he tackles the challenges of the cartoon character head on.

But unlike his predecessors, who brought a genuine pathos to their roles, the character of Wilson is never fully actualised.

And the film gets stranded somewhere between its comic book origins and it’s more expansive big screen aspirations.

Wilson is now showing at selected cinemas

Originally published as Harrelson gets under moviegoers’ skins



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