Old 03-11-2004, 11:31 PM

Willard is a breath of fresh air thatís a little musty with nostalgia, but fresh nonetheless. Its an old-fashioned ride thatís able to be a passive, yet still mentally-exhilarating, experience.

Willardís the ďshy loser finds friends in the oddest placesĒ story, and since thereís nothing overly original here you should know the drill: dude starts out sad, makes friends, gets happy, something happens to his friends, gets mad, gets revenge, role credits. Willard, on the surface, is an unstable mammaís boy. He has trouble communicating with others (namely the way he refuses to hold eye contact) and, because he has to take care of his sick mother, is getting in deep shit at work: heís always late. So his unruly, one-dimensional boss comes down on him like a ton of bricks. But Willardís about to get a new friend . . .
Heís quiet. Heís white. Heís loyal. And heís a three-or-so-inch tall rat named Socrates. Through Socrates Willard starts to form bonds with other rats, namely the huge, ominous Ben. Though menacing in appearance, Ben is actually rather kind: he just wants attention from Willard, whoís showering Socrates and Socrates alone with his company. So whatís a jealous Ben to do? Kill Socrates? Of course not--Benís friends with Socrates. They're companions.
In case you havenít noticed, it sounds like Iím talking about people. Thatís because these rats form an intriguing, very human triangle of compassion, want, rejection, and affection with Willard.

Crispin Glover (Willard) is the obvious choice to play a weird, scary, depressed, eccentric character, so itís no surprise that he pulls it off with flying colors. He makes the character of Willard able to hang with the Syís (One Hour Photo) and Mayís (May) of the movie business. R. Lee Ermeyís take on Willardís boss Martin doesnít fare so well . . . the guyís just a constant over-actor. And he canít scream. He actually brought down some of the scenes he was in. Willardís gal-pal at work, played by Laura Elena Harring, is very likeable (both the actress and the character). She formed a very realistic, caring character that managed to be concerned without unnecessarily attached.

Morgan took notes from Tim Burton when directing . . . brilliant! He uses most shots to help ground Willardís feelings rather than capture some pretty sunset, which leads me into . . .

. . . the soundtrack. The score was one of the better parts of the movie for one reason and one reason alone: it was there to tell us how Willard felt, not how we should feel. In an industry with sweeping music accompanying sobbing actors, it was nice to not be pushed around emotionally by a score. If the movie wanted emotion it used its capable actors.

Willard is a very Tim Burton film. For most of us, thatís a good thing. Its also a character study along the lines of One Hour Photo and May, though it isnít as good as either movie. The thing is, Tim Burton mixed with a decent character-study creates an interesting movie, sure . . . the problem is, thatís all Willard amounts to: an interesting movie. Not once was I distraught by what I saw on screen, nor did I ever care much for Willardís fate. I felt sorry for the guy, but a few of his actions made it so I could never be disquieted if he happened to die (whereas I felt greater sympathy for the main's in One Hour Photo and May). For better or for worse, Willard is a very human character, and one very few will be able to relate to. Typically, with these types of movies, the audience is still able to relate to something about the character, whatever that may be. Here, I sure couldnít. Further more, the movie attempts to tug on our heartstrings with some animal cruelty . . . and guess what? It doesnít work. Another bad sign.

My final qualm is the basic pretense of the film: we are supposed to be scared by a rat: Ben. Bare in mind that this isnít a dozen rats, but one. Itís big, but not enough to make it terrifying. A few scenes in the movie had me rolling my eyes. I mean, come on Willard! Itís a rat! Calm down! Step on it or throw it against a wall. Sheesh.

This is a definite must-see and sadly underrated, but Iíd recommend against a buy. Since it doesnít involve the viewer emotionally like other similar films (One Hour Photo, May), thereís really no incentive to re-watch.
The rideís fun and interesting, but once itís over you wonít hurry back in line.

Willard is a smart, sophisticated film with unusual use of its soundtrack, a ďthis guy needs an awardĒ performance by Crispon Glover, the occasional (and painful) overacting courtesy of R. Lee Ermey, a memorable main character, but still emotionally unsatisfying film. During the movie your mind will be awake and tickiní, but once its over you wonít be thinking about the movie for very long. Itís the intellectual equivalent of a popcorn movie.

8/10--a great, old-fashioned film thatíll leave you oddly hollow once you turn it off.



28 Days Later : 7/10
8mm : 9/10
Alien : 6/10
Audition : 7/10
August Underground : 5/10
Battle Royale : 8/10
Cannibal Holocaust : 9/10
Dawn of the Dead : 5/10
Day of the Dead: 8/10
The Dead Zone : 7/10
Donnie Darko : 10/10
The Eye : 7/10
Elephant : 6/10
Freaky Friday : 8/10
Ginger Snaps : 7/10
Hardcore : 6/10
Hellboy : 6/10
House of 1000 Corpses : 4/10
House of Sand and Fog : 9/10
Hulk : 10/10
Irreversible : 8/10
Kill Bill Volume 1 : 8/10
Kung Pow! Enter the Fist : 7/10
Last House on the Left: 3/10
May : 10/10
Memento : 8/10
Mulholland Drive : 7/10
Near Dark : 6/10
One Hour Photo : 9/10
Perfect Blue: 9/10
Requiem For a Dream : 8/10
Se7en : 9/10
Terminator 2: Judgment Day : 10/10
Thesis : 6/10
Underworld : 7/10
Willard: 8/10

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 5) : A
Neon Genesis Evangelion - Perfect Collection : B-
End of Evangelion : A-

Stephen King's IT : 5/5 stars

Last edited by C-Desecration-; 09-20-2004 at 05:06 PM..
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Old 03-31-2004, 09:21 AM
I don't usually bump my own threads, but I'm curious to see what other people felt about this.

Any thoughts?
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Old 03-31-2004, 09:36 AM
Nice review, I was just going to wait for it to come on HBO or Cinemax but I'll probably give it a rent soon.
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Old 07-14-2005, 12:04 PM
I suprisingly liked this movie. Crispin Glover is the man. I will say that the revenge scene should have been longer for a better effect, but overall Willard is weird, somber, and very entertaining.
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Old 07-14-2005, 12:49 PM
Willard is one of my alltime favourite films, Glover is excellent in the lead role and is perfect as the bullied employee that slowly starts to lose it. the rest of the cast is also excellent. it was a very clever film at times and had some nice effects. it managed to make me laugh at times, be creeped out and also very sad.

if only they made more films like this

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