There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Wilson (Woody Harrelson) is a lonely man who struggles to connect with other people, though it is not for his lack of trying. He believes in respecting other people, being polite, giving others your undivided attention when in conversation, and he gets very offended when others do not treat him with the same respect. When he gets offended, he is brutally honest with the individual, to the point where they never want to speak to him again. He means well and he has an ideology that others should follow, but his absolution regarding that ideology, and his temper when others make even the slightest infraction against that ideology, has resulted in him having a lonely life.
Fed up with his lonely lifestyle, Wilson decides to track down his one true love. Pippi (Laura Dern) was the love of Wilson’s life, but she left him years ago without any sort of explanation. He quickly makes contact with Pippi’s sister, who informs him that Pippi had been pregnant and that she had a baby not long after leaving him. Wilson has learned where he might be able to find Pippi, but that he has also that he has a daughter! He has been desperate for true, loving, inter-personal relationships for a very long time, and now he has the chance of having everything he’s ever wanted. Thus, he sets out to reignite his relationship with Pippi, and to meet his long-lost daughter for the first time.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Woody Harrelson (+8pts)
Supporting Characters (-5pts)
Laura Dern (+4pts)
Pro: Woody Harrelson (+8pts)
Woody Harrelson is an absolute joy to watch in almost everything he pops up in. Wilson was a very complex character, which I will get into later, but if anyone could have pull off all of this character’s complexity in such a compelling, relatable way, it was Woody Harrelson. This character was filled with so much pain, loneliness, innocence, pride, stubbornness, fury, and joy. Some of those things seem like they should contradict each other, but that was what makes this character so interesting. The problem with such a complex main character was that, if the actor could not pull it off, the movie would fall apart. Fortunately, that did not happen here.
Woody Harrelson absolutely nailed this character. During the character’s happiest moments, you can still feel his pain. Similarly, during the character’s darkest moments, you can feel his innocence and will sympathize with him. There were so many complex layers to this character and Woody Harrelson was absolutely fascinating to watch as he brought all of this to the screen. It seems that whenever I review a movie that Woody Harrelson is in, he always ends up being one of the movie’s strengths. This movie was no exception. He was the main character, so he got a ton of screentime, and he was great in every second of it.
Con: Supporting Characters (-5pts)
Wilson was definitely a strength for this movie, but the same cannot be said for most of the supporting characters. This movie was absolutely packed with side characters for Wilson to interact with. By having so many characters, there simply was not enough time to develop them all. This would have been fine if the filmmakers had the screen-time to at least develop a few, but they really only had time to develop Wilson and Pippi.
We were then left with several supporting characters that were not very interesting, nor were they even entertaining. They each had potential, but with so little development, there was nothing for audiences to sink their teeth into. While I thought most of the supporting characters had potential, two characters I would have liked to have seen more of were Shelly (Judy Greer) and Claire (Isabella Amara). Claire had lived a pretty messed up life, and the relationship between Shelly and Wilson was definitely a unique one. Developing these two things could have added a lot to this story, but the filmmakers had too many characters for them to be able to give these two the attention they needed.
Pro: Laura Dern (+4pts)
After Wilson, Pippi was the next most interesting character, and Laura Dern did a fantastic job in the role. Like Wilson, Pippi was a complex character. She loved Wilson and their daughter, but she had her fair share of issues. Laura Dern was able to play all of this in a way that was fascinating to watch and she had strong chemistry with Woody Harrelson.
Pippi and Wilson were basically the embodiment of the phrase: “misery loves company”. These two characters were perfect for each other for that very reason. They were both dealing with tremendous pain and regret, and they both wanted to give their long lost family a second chance. Laura Dern portrayed her love for Wilson, while recognizing his demons, and managing her own. She did all this in a compelling and raw way. She made her character feel real, and it made me fascinated to see how this character's story would go.
Con: Dramedy (-6pts)
I felt that the filmmakers struggled to find the right tone for Wilson. It was definitely a drama about a depressing character, dealing with a lot of pain, who audiences will sympathize with. He was also a very opinionated man who got frustrated easily and always made sure his brutally honest voice was heard, which provided a lot of awkward comedy. The filmmakers focused on these two aspects of the character in different scenes.
Rather than try to blend these two tones together, the filmmakers constantly switched back and forth, to a point that it felt confusing tonally. In any given scene, audiences will not know if they should expect humor or pity. Both of these tones worked well separately, but it would have been nice, and it would have felt more natural, if the filmmakers had found a way to blend these things into one tone that was consistent throughout the movie. By not doing this, the audiences were left with a movie with an inconsistent tone and an unsatisfying conclusion, as it was a conclusion that needed to be two different things at once.
Pro: Wilson (+8pts)
Wilson was such an interesting character. He was severely depressed, severely lonely, severely desperate to make new friends, severely stubborn with his beliefs, severely intolerant of any sort of disrespect, and severely vocal about his frustrations. He ended up being a pretty unpredictable and unique character with an ideology that audiences will be able to relate to. He was not the nicest guy when people rubbed him the wrong way, but he had an innocence with his expectations of others that was borderline naive, and it will make audiences sympathize with him pretty easily.
He was a fascinating character who was played masterfully by Woody Harrelson. There were a ton of awkward situations that the character found himself in, and these situations were awkward in the best way. They will cause audiences to either laugh at or pity him, but either way there will be a reaction. Whether you love this movie or not, this will be a character that leaves an impression. You may even just see our society, and the norms of how we interact with one another, in a new light—at least temporarily.
Con: Timeline (-6pts)
In my opinion, this might have been this movie’s biggest issue, because it was indirectly, the cause of all of the movie’s problems. This movie took place over a long period of time. I do not want to specify exactly how long to avoid spoilers, but know that it takes place over the course of many years. In the span of those years, Wilson was bound to meet many people and find himself in many awkward situations.
By taking place over such a long period of time, the filmmakers had to introduce several side characters, but there was not enough screen-time to flesh any of them out. Additionally, the movie was intended as a dramatic comedy, but because it took place over a large portion of Wilson's life, the filmmakers needed to show the major, tragic plot points of that life. The filmmakers threw comedy in whenever possible, but they had to focus on the heavy drama, and I think their solution to this was to just flip back and forth between the two tones. The side characters and the tone were addressed as separate issues, but I believe the cause of these issues was the same. I think this story would have been much better suited as a television series, or by cutting out some of the less necessary portions of Wilson's life. Doing this would have created a more concise movie in which the filmmakers could have let everything breathe a bit. By squeezing so much of Wilson's life into one movie, I thought the filmmakers bit off more than they could chew.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
I always like a good character story and Wilson might be one of the more fascinating characters I have seen in a while. He was naive, lonely, brutally honest, he had a strong ideology about respect, and he had a big heart. This was a very complex character that no ordinary actor could pull off. Woody Harrelson, however, is no ordinary actor. He pulled this character off magnificently, with all the subtle complexity and pain that will make audiences fascinated by the character. He was compelling in this role, and he had a great co-star in Laura Dern.
Laura Dern played Pippi, the long lost one true love of Wilson. She was a complex character in her own right, and Laura Dern did a great job of conveying her character’s pain and guilt to the audience. Unfortunately, the filmmakers tried to do too much with too little time. They covered a big portion of Wilson’s life, and by doing so, they cluttered the movie with too many side characters that could not be developed, and they struggled to achieve a natural dramedy tone. The movie’s titular character was fascinating, as was the actor playing him, but the filmmakers simply did not have enough screen-time to do everything they wanted to do, and by trying to squeeze everything in there, I thought the movie suffered a bit.