Daniel Clowes’ ‘Wilson’ Gets a Delightfully Misanthropic Adaptation


Daniel Clowes has been a legend in the field of comics for decades and the comic creator has had a fairly unusual relationship with Hollywood even amidst the comic book craze that has dominated pop culture. Of course, Clowes’ work don’t dabble in superheroes, but the mind behind Ghost World should be in more demand despite having not completed work on a movie since Art School Confidential over a decade ago. Finally, the mind of Daniel Clowes has returned to the silver screen with Wilson, the adaptation of the 2010 graphic novel which Clowes wrote the screenplay for Craig Johnson’s film. Wilson is a dark comedy with misanthropy oozing from its pores, but it is genuinely funny and moving throughout even if its dark turn towards the end will turn off a large number of viewers. If you know what to expect from a Daniel Clowes work, then Wilson will be an absolute delight to behold. However, if you disliked the dark turn in Art School Confidential, you might not be too pleased with the direction Wilson takes.

Wilson (Woody Harrelson) is a different kind of people person. He’s a loner that has his beloved dog Pepper. He believes that “modern civilization is a scam,” and that technology has driven people apart. Wilson will sit beside a stranger at a coffee shop busy working on their laptop only to start an unwanted conversation and then berate them when they’re not exactly eager to converse. Loneliness begins to catch up with Wilson when his best friend informs him that he and his wife are moving away, and soon Wilson is forced to face another emotional obstacle when his father succumbs to cancer. Soon Wilson tracks down his ex-wife Pippi (Laura Dern), and the two start to spend time together. Pippi is a recovering addict trying to get back on her feet. Things take a turn when Pippi reveals that the child that Wilson thought she aborted was alive and adopted, and the surprise invigorates Wilson to seek out his long lost teenage daughter Claire (Isabelle Amara). Of course, it’s not see easy to rekindle past loves and try to enter the life of a daughter left behind years ago, and Wilson is in for a rude awakening or two.

The character of Wilson is the latest of outsiders that Daniel Clowes has brought to the screen in a story where they’re searching for how they fit into the world. He’s a character that says he’s a people person yet is incredibly misanthropic in his daily interactions with people. Wilson is a character that sees himself as smarter than everybody around even if he isn’t a particularly brilliant individual. The entire character arc of Wilson is driven by the realization that his life isn’t working at present, and he enters into a dangerous quest to relive the best moments of his past to brighten his future.

The surliness of Wilson as a character is a constant source of hilarity as Harrelson relishes in the chance to exchange acerbic barbs at anyone who dares run afoul of his rigid code of conduct. Harrelson continues to deliver phenomenal work in a recent string of strong performances. He makes the harshest aspects of Wilson affable, something that’s not quite easy considering the character’s overwhelming misanthropic nature. Also standing out in Wilson is the always reliable Laura Dern. As Pippi, Dern delivers a performance that is supposed to be the struggling voice of reason to Wilson’s misguided enthusiasm, but the character’s history of substance abuse leaves her uncertain and often willing to go along with Wilson’s ill-conceived schemes. There’s a heartbreaking dynamic between these two characters that takes on another level when Isabelle Amara arrives as their angst-riddled teenage daughter.

The weakest aspect of Wilson comes from the rather mundane direction of Craig Johnson, who doesn’t bring much of a visual style to this comic book adaptation. Visually Wilson doesn’t do much to stand out from the pack, relying on Clowes’ screenplay adaptation of his comic book and the strong performances of the leads to carry the film. Luckily, the screenplay and the duo of Harrelson and Dern are more than up to the task of carrying the film all on their own.

As the film begins to near its conclusion it takes a rather dark, unexpected turn that is likely to turn off many viewers. It’s a turn that’s not to dissimilar to the turn taken in Art School Confidential, which I see as a fitting comparison to Wilson. As a comic writer, Clowes makes bold choices when bringing his own work to the screen, and he is more faithful to the source material than any other of Clowes’ adaptations. Within Wilson, though, there’s nothing that’s by the book as far as storytelling decisions or tonal shifts go, which I find to be quite refreshing though it certainly may put off a large number of viewers.

Wilson is a darkly comic piece of misanthropic filmmaking that pushes its characters to the absolute brink without compromising its unique heart. Much likes its eponymous character, Wilson isn’t out to please everybody and is willing to push that just a little bit further and further in unexpected directions as it goes. If you’re willing to accept a movie that plays by its own rules of likability, Wilson is definitely worth getting to know.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
War for the Planet of the Apes
‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Brings the Series to a Masterful End

Nobody expected the revitalized series based upon Planet of the Apes...

The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography
‘The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography’ Presents A Kinder, Gentler Errol Morris

Over the course of his career, director Errol Morris has made...

Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Okja’ is Netflix’s First Cinematic Masterpiece

At its premiere at Cannes this year, Bong Joon Ho’s Okja...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
sega genesis
New Atari 2600/Sega Genesis Consoles & Handhelds Coming this Fall

AtGames has announced its Fall 2017 lineup of classic gaming hardware...

Hunt: Showdown
[E3] What I think of Crytek’s Hunt: Showdown

Hunt: Showdown is an absolutely gorgeous game that pairs hunters together...

Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown
Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown VR E3 Experience

Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown VR E3 Experience Ace Combat 7...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Marvin Attacks!

Title: Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian Writers: Steve Orlando and Frank J....

The Only One Who can Help the Legion of Super-Heroes is…Bugs Bunny!?!

Title: Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny #1 Writer: Sam Humphries Penciller: Tom...

Oh Ya! The Holofoil Covers are Back for Dark Days: The Forge!

Title: Darks Days: The Forge #1 Writers: Scott Snyder and James...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Star Trek Crew Edition Pens
Discover Star Trek with 3Doodler’s Star Trek Crew Edition Pen

We can’t move up the Star Trek: Discovery premiere date, but...

July Loot Gaming
The July Loot Gaming Crate is themed CHAMPION

The July Loot Gaming Crate is themed CHAMPION and features: League...

hitcase pro
Hitcase Pro 2.0 – The Ultimate iPhone Case

Hitcase Pro 2.0 is a successful campaign on Kickstarter. Hitcase Pro...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Bellator Announces Broadcast Duties For Historic Event At Madison Square Garden On Saturday, June 24

From Bellator MMA – LOS ANGELES – With the recently announced...

Paul Banasiak Eyes the Cruiserweight Title for Lion Fight 37

Editors Note: The Interview was originally conducted by Lion Fight Staff....

‘Rumble On The Water’ 1 Sinks the Competition

  June 9, 2017 – Rumble On The Water is a...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
GTA Online Updates
How Long Will GTA Online Updates Continue To be Free? – Evans & Gibbs

A special guest post from Richard Evans and Matt Gibbs, who breaks...

It’s time to rest ‘The Voice.’ Michael Schiavello, We Miss You Already

In December of 2008, I had decided to switch satellite providers...

Free comic book day
Comics on the Can: Free Comic Book Day 2017

In which  I reveal my thoughts about this year’s Free Comic...

Event News Event Reviews
First Ever AX Pre-Show Comes Out Strong

From Anime Expo – Santa Ana, CA – 6/26/2017. In the...

Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con Partner’s with Entertainment Weekly as Their Official Media Partner

From Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con – LOS ANGELES (June 23,...

Romy and Michele was Well Worth the 30 Year Wait to Reemerge on Stage

Roughly 30 years ago, the two quirky friends first appeared on...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...