Woody Harrelson is a name that always elicits a smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. He’s always the highlight of each of his projects - whether that film is any good or not - and while he may have impeccable acting skills, his film choices occasionally need some work. Harrelson’s latest project is ‘Wilson’, a big screen adaptation of the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes (‘Ghost World’). Hoping to mimic the cult success of Clowes’ previous work, ‘Wilson’ stops short despite its show-stealing lead.
Wilson (Harrelson) is a bitter, lonely man in desperate need of a little interaction besides that which he gets from his beloved dog Pepper. In a world of smart phones, computer screens and everyone seeming to be in a hurry, Wilson struggles with that interaction and when it’s not met, those on the other end of his efforts are met with a harsh dose of verbal reality. After deciding to reconnect with his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern, '99 Homes', 'The Founder', TV's 'Big Little Lies'), he discovers that 17 years ago during their divorce Pippi chose not to have an abortion but ended up having the baby and putting her up for adoption. Thrilled at the idea of being a father, Wilson drags his poor ex (who’s battling her own demons) along for a wild ride of tracking down their long-lost daughter and connecting with her. Well, that old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" was never so true - in Wilson’s tale, his road to a life’s purpose ends up becoming a journey filled with violence, breakdowns and a couple criminal charges.
In 2014, director Craig Johnson made the sensational festival darling ‘The Skeleton Twins’. Beautifully marrying the bitter with the sweet and a touching plutonic relationship at its core, Johnson has once again found a similar project and attempted to replicate his previous success. Unfortunately, by focusing on the sharp-tongued humour and emotional journey of our three main characters, he’s neglected the personal and spiritual one of our “hero”, and thus we end our tale with no satisfaction and little to no point.
Harrelson delivers some cracking moments and hilariously piercing dialogue curtesy of Clowes’ script, but that nagging question of "where is this all going?" is never answered.