Picks and Pans Review: My Name Is Bill W.
updated 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
There's an inspiring and fascinating story to be had in the biography of Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. But here, that story is obscured by shallow characterizations, awkward writing and lots of clichés ("I'm not going to let you take me down with you," Wilson's wife shouts. "I'm going to live! I'm going to live!"). James (True Believer) Woods plays Wilson. James Garner (Woods's co-star in another Hallmark Hall of Fame special, Promise) plays AA's co-founder, Dr. Bob Smith, and also serves as executive producer for the show. And JoBeth Williams is Wilson's understanding wife. Their sincerity is so thick you can spread it; everyone involved clearly wants to make a worthy movie. But they don't dig deep enough to show the full extent of the characters' struggles and, thus, the full extent of their courage and wisdom. At the end, Woods looks at the horizon and says, "We've come a long way, haven't we? Who could have ever dreamed?" If a scriptwriter feels the need to point that out to us, then he's admitting that his script needs help.