Wilson, the titular character of the new Woody Harrelson dramedy, is the kind of unfiltered curmudgeon who calls his oldest friend a, “toxic, soul destroying vampire.”
He’s the kind of guy drives too slow on the highway and complains when people honk at him. “Everyone is in such a rush,” he harumphs.
He’s the kind of exasperating person who sits next to you on an empty train and then proceeds to ask deeply personal questions.
He’s the kind a guy who has probably been punched in the face, a lot.
But is he the kind of guy you want to spend 90 minutes with in the movie theater?
My answer would be no, but it really depends on whether you call his unfettered behaviour “open and fearless” or just plain rude.
Wilson is a square peg in the world of round holes, a man left alone and friendless when his father died and his only pal, Robert, moves away.
Convinced he must find a companion he tries to re-enter the dating pool. A couple of disastrous dates puts him on the trail of his ex-wife, a woman hasn’t seen in 17 years.
When she tells him she had their baby and put the little girl up for adoption, he insists on hunting her down in an attempt to form a lasting relationship. She is his legacy but her adoptive parents aren’t keen to have Wilson in their daughter’s life.
There’s more, but it would only lead you down the rabbit hole of Wilson’s off beat existence. No spoilers here.
“Wilson,” written by Daniel “Ghost World” Clowes and directed by Craig “The Skeleton Twins” Johnson, never quite finds the sweet spot between world weary versus depression, comedy versus tragedy. Harrelson and Co. play it at a heightened tone, only allowing dribs and drabs of real life to invade Wilson’s made up world.
The film trades on the theme that as people we are a fleeting, temporary presence in the world, soon to be forgotten.
“We want people to love us for who we are,” he says, “but that’s not possible because were all too unbearable.”
But just as that theme settles in Wilson, the man in the movie, shifts into a feel good mode that makes everything that came before seem a little like an elaborate but meaningless set up for some happy-making redemption. Everybody likes a happy ending, I know, but keeping true to Wilson’s crabby character and his journey would’ve been a more satisfying ride.