WILLARD, a remake of the 1971 horror movie by the same name, is, well, unusual.
A deliciously twisted tale, it stars Crispin Glover as Willard, the Pied Piper
of ratdom. It more than stars him. It's almost a one-person picture, featuring
scene after scene of him conversing with -- thankfully they don't talk back --
his rat buddies. Although I'm still not convinced that Glover, a perennial
supporting player in such creepy roles as the Thin Man in CHARLIE'S ANGELS, can
carry a movie on his own, Glover pulls it off this time thanks to a most unusual
screenplay and to rats, both adorable and gross.
The story starts when Willard's anal retentive mother begins to complain about
the rats in the basement of their house, which seems to have been borrowed from
PSYCHO. Willard strikes up an instant friendship with Socrates, a
cute-as-a-button white rat. His relationship with Ben, as in Big Ben, an ugly
black rat the size of a rabbit, doesn't go as smoothly. Although Willard starts
off in control of his ever-increasing rodent brigade, he and Ben quickly become
locked in a deadly power struggle.
R. Lee Ermey is wonderfully acerbic as Willard's boss and nemesis. Laura
Harring (MULHOLLAND FALLS), on the other hand, sleepwalks through her part as
Willard's coworker and would-be friend.
The movie's best line comes when Willard is advised by his attorney to just give
up, sell the house and "start over." With wild eyes, Willard begins to scream
at him shrilly, "Start over? I'm almost done!"
Willard isn't a guy who likes trying new things. Even if he has one of the
worst jobs possible as a purchase order processor, he'd do anything he can to
keep doing what he's doing until he's dead and gone.
If you are the least bit adventuresome and willing to venture away from your
favorite film genres, WILLARD is a wacky, fun and funny comedy that's as dark as
a window-less basement -- full of rats.
WILLARD runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for "terror/violence, some sexual content
and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers with strong stomachs. An R
rating might have been a better choice.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes