Mickey vs. the ungloved one.
Willard (2003): 4 out of 10: Crispin Glover is an insane genius. The insane part is reasonably well documented elsewhere. The genius part is on full display on the Willard DVD.
Unfortunately, that genius is demonstrated in a quick music video of the Michael Jackson song Ben (sung and directed by Glover himself think Cabaret mixed with a soft core furry) and not in the film in question. Speaking of extras that outshine the main event, the (77 minute!) behind-the-scenes documentary Year of the Rat is one of the most informative documentaries on the movie business I have ever seen (Don’t just believe me a lot of critics placed Willard in their top 10 DVD’s of the year lists based solely on this doc.). The movie itself is eminently skippable, however.
There are two fundamental problems with Willard. The plot and the rats. First the rats. Not since that giant bunnies attack Dr. McCoy epic Night of the Lepus has a horror movie suffered such cute protagonists. However you feel about rats you will probably be won over by these sweet and well-behaved rodents (not to mention clean. Note to Willard producers it is “you dirty rat” not “you shampooed and blow-dried rat”). With an almost complete lack of menace from our three-letter furballs, the movie has to rely on the plot.
Willard has Norman Bates’ mother, works at the same office as Joe from Joe and the Volcano, has shunned the love interest of Laura Harring (fresh from Mulholland Drive and completely wasted), has the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket as his cruel boss and developed a relationship with some rats. Willard uses rats to get revenge on the boss. The end. No, that is the plot. Danny DeVito’s short story in Throw Momma from the Train had about as much dramatic tension. One guy with a white hat and one guy with a black hat, gee I wonder how this will turn out.
On the plus side, Glover is watchable in that what the hell is he going to do next kind of way. I wish they had let him write the movie. A soft core rat picture with Nazis would undoubtedly have been an exciting twist. Something Willard is defiantly lacking.