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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Willard

Starring: Crispin Glover, Jackie Burroughs
Director: Glen Morgan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: March 2003
Genre: Horror

*Also starring: Kim McKamy, R. Lee Ermey, David Parker

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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

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