Wilson is a comedy-drama based on a graphic novel of the same name, which follows a lonely and overly honest man named Wilson (Woody Harrelson) as he attempts to reconnect with his estranged wife Pippi (Laura Dern) and his daughter Claire (Isabella Amara). As Wilson attempts to rekindle lost relationships and find happiness in an otherwise empty life, he goes through a series of wacky scenarios, most of which he gets himself into through his proclivity to speak with brutal honesty.
In a lot of ways, this movie reminds me of 2016’s The Meddler in which Susan Sarandon played a woman who was trying to re-ignite her life and rekindle a relationship with her adult daughter after her husband dies. The problem is, I didn’t like The Meddler. And Wilson manages to take everything I did like about that movie and ruin it, while simultaneously compounding the issues that were apparent in The Meddler. The major issue with both of these films being the supporting characters, who so lack any meaningful characterization that the film seems to hope that you forget that they are there while the lead shines. Amara and Judy Greer, who plays Wilson’s dog-sitter, are given nothing to work with besides being tools for Wilson to work off of. And Dern, whose character left Wilson for reasons that would be apparent to anyone who sees the film, seems to stumble through a character who begins to fall back on hard times because of Wilson’s constant persistence.
But the main problem with the film rides with its titular character (this is where The Meddler actually managed to work). Wilson is an unlikeable loud-mouth, who thinks of himself as a people person while actively doing and saying things that only assholes would do or say to another human being. Maybe this was supposed to make him charming, but he merely comes off as someone you would hope to never bump into under any circumstance. And this makes it very difficult to watch what is essentially 101 minutes of the director and writer seeming to want you to either sympathize or agree with Wilson.
Not only is Wilson nigh insufferable at the beginning of the film, but what seems to be a complete lack of any arc leads to even more annoyance when the film tries to convince you that he has changed. At the end of the movie, we are supposed to feel as though Wilson has learned from his mistakes and is now living a happy life with people who actually care about him. The problem is that, right up until the movie ends, Wilson is still doing and saying reprehensible things that make him completely detached from the idea of likability. Slap on the fact that the comedy isn’t funny and the dialogue that is meant to seem eye-opening sounds extremely outdated, and you have a soulless adaptation. Wilson is sluggish and awkward, a piece of film that feels dead-on-arrival.