I've always wondered how certain movies get the greenlight. How does something that actually makes you question the considerable talents of Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern wind up on the silver screen? Does no one see the final product, or even the constituent parts, taking shape before the theater audience does? This film is a haphazard meditation on the difficulty of life for people whose lives really aren't all that difficult. So self-absorbed, mostly joyless and ultimately not very poignant, I walked away feeling like my time was wasted. There are unending annoyances ingrained throughout, but more than anything, it is just a bore.
As the plot deserves only the thinnest of treatments, here goes. Wilson (played by Woody Harrelson) is a middle-aged man whose life has not gone according to plan. He is the type of guy who will stand at the urinal next to you and try to make conversations. When we meet him, he is down on life, but when he finds out he has a daughter from a previous relationship, he tries to patch together something of a family life with disastrous results. The plot winds through various unfortunate circumstances, but barely any of it really matters. Even in the film's big emotional moments, I found myself saying 'that's it?' And yeah, that was it.
It is hard to make a 100-minute movie that feels entirely too long. But if that's your goal, one way to make it easier is to include twists and turns and 'huh?' moments that make the audience feel like they are watching three different movies. Characters in, characters out. Storylines followed and dropped. Absurdist plotlines drifting through forgettable dialogue and unlikable characters. Wilson has these elements in spades. It does its darnedest to come across as pointless and succeeds.
From the number of scenes feature Woody Harrelson going on and on about this or that, it is clear they thought they had something deeper than they did. It is clear they thought this character was more charming than he is. It is clear they thought they were making a quality movie. None of this is true and it is a shame that these people will all probably have no trouble working again. The film is so utterly devoid of the type of meaning they try to give it that it would be hard to call it anything other than a failure.
However, if I separate the viewing experience from the material itself, perhaps the film could have had a different feel with a few tweaks. Namely, could Louis CK have saved this material and added a layer of depth Harrelson just didn't have? Perhaps. But Harrelson is a talented actor as well, so shame on all involved for not turning this into more. While I would say I don't recommend seeing it, I doubt you were thinking about doing so anyway. If this were a TV series, it would have been cancelled after three episodes. Do yourself a favor and pretend as if that is the case.
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