2.5 stars out of 4 for the not-quite-polished but well-cast “Wilson,” directed by Bellingham native Craig Johnson.
A character, even when he’s played by Woody Harrelson, is not a movie. “Wilson,” based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, is the story of a grumpy, lonely middle-aged man; the sort who plunks down next to you on an otherwise empty bus and starts asking questions about what you’re reading. Needing a jolt, he gets one upon reconnecting with his ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern), and discovering that the two of them have a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara), placed for adoption as an infant.
“I believe that every one of us has a story to tell,” Wilson intones, at the film’s opening; he’s right, but that story isn’t always worthy of an entire film. “Wilson,” directed by Bellingham native Craig Johnson (whose previous film, “The Skeleton Twins,” more precisely found the right wistful-comedy note), is wonderfully cast, and it’s a pleasure to watch Harrelson meander his way through his lines. (Note the wicked gleam in his eye; this faux-folksy fellow rather enjoys being annoying.)
Movie Review ★★½
‘Wilson,’ with Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer, Isabella Amara, Cheryl Hines. Directed by Craig Johnson, from a screenplay by Daniel Clowes, based on the graphic novel by Clowes. 101 minutes. Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality. Several theaters.
But there’s just not enough here to sustain a full-length film, and what is here feels very much like a not-quite-polished movie script. Wilson and Pippi’s behavior, in particular, makes little sense, particularly when they begin stalking their daughter; the happy ending (you’ll see it coming about two minutes in) feels both predictable and unearned. You wouldn’t want to get stuck sitting next to Wilson on public transportation; the experience, unfortunately, would be kind of like watching a movie about him.