Wilson (2017): Movie Review

Wilson (2017)

dir. Craig Johnson

written by: Daniel Clowes

starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Isabelle Amara, Judy Greer


When Daniel Clowes adapted his graphic novel Ghost World with director Terry Zwigoff in 2001, his quirky, hipster-before-it-was-cool coming of age story landed him an Oscar nomination, helped announce Scarlett Johansson as a breakout indie star (My how the times have changed), and garnered some well deserved awards attention for Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch. Pulling for another successful screen transfer, Clowes scripted another one of his works Wilson to be directed by Craig Johnson (The Skeleton Twins). Culminating from an existential crisis of its title character following the death of his father, the multi-styled graphic novel reunites the scattered portions of his family that never was to see what semblance of normalcy might be available.

Woody Harrelson has the reigns in this picture. Playing himself in paunchy form, most of his laughs are spoiled by the trailer, snagging the better jokes from the source and scraping together all the wide-mouthed mugging he can muster. Johnson managed to ground Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in a touching suicide comedy, but a bit of existential dread and he lets the film stumble off the page into a messy exchange of goofing around.  Laura Dern levels the hystrionics a touch, and Isabelle Amara (the daughter) is dry but surprisingly lively.  Overall, it’s too much Woody

Clowes loses the grief in his novel.  The tempered nihilism was sacrificed for more palatable goofball antics.  The heart wrenching loneliness that snuck up from the graphic’s progression left the picture, so that everyone winds up finding peace; far more than the original work.  People love their happy endings, and they want them distinct and unquestionable.  La La Land pissed off more than one friend because Sebastian and Mia didn’t wind up together, and the ambiguity (hope) at the end of Moonlight left some cold to the ending.  Life isn’t a fairy tale, no matter how the movies attempt the make the world seem happy.


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