This week:

Filthy says:
"Open wide for steaming hot rat shit.

When I was younger I had friends who threw parties with real invitations, themes, kegs and sometimes even plastic hats. Those were great parties. Now, the only ones I'm invited to are impromptu gatherings of drunks afraid to go to sleep after the Tavern closes. All we really do is go to someone's apartment and vomit and urinate all over ourselves. Those are pretty great parties too.

I remember one particular party from my youth. Lloyd had just started college and he invited a lot of people from school. That meant lots of pretty girls who didn't know me and, as far as I could tell, hadn't read about me in the police log or seen my name on the bad check list taped to the register at the 7-11. It was going to be the greatest party ever. The fly in the ointment was this asshole. I didn't know him, so he must have been from the college. He was pale, bony and angular with stringy hair, and he strutted around the living room with a rat on his shoulder. Seriously, a big fucking white rat, crawling around and shitting over his shoulder.

Rat Guy tried to act like it was no big deal, but he was really impressed with himself and was dying for a chance to say, "Huh, what? Oh, the rat. I'm surprised more people don't have them." He wanted the pretty girls to be dazzled, but it struck me as the most unsubtle cry for attention ever.

I remember becoming so pissed as the party went on. It was partly because that weirdo was so fucking sad and desperate, and partly because the rat was really freaking out my parrot.

That rat guy will love Willard. It's the perfect movie for every loner who thinks the rest of the world is really creeped out by rats, and that he's cool for digging them. It's a movie that'll appeal far more to people who think others are scared by them than to anyone looking to be scared. That's because lots and lots of rat shit everywhere isn't scary; it's just unpleasant. And a great way to transmit the hanta virus.

Willard is a remake of a shitty horror movie from 1972. Everything about this fucking dog is obvious and overworked. It's like rat guy: no subtlety, no cleverness, but lots of confidence that it has both.

Crispin Glover is Willard, a trod-upon dweeb with no self-confidence. He works as a drone at the company his father started and the sleazy, evil business partner (R. Lee Ermey) stole. He lives at home with his ancient mother in a once-glorious mansion. When he discovers rats in the basement, he befriends them by providing food and safety. He makes a bedfellow out of a small white one named Socrates. Glover trains the rats who appear to already understand English before he gets to them, and then he plots his revenge against his boss.

Meanwhile, there is a struggle for the hearts of the rats. The biggest rat is Ben. You can tell he is bad because he's brown and because we keeps seeing close-ups of his eyes, which are somehow supposed to be more evil looking than all the other rat's' eyes. See, just like our real-life government, the movie assumes the bad guys are always brown. Ben is more aggressive and vicious than the others. He is Glover's id, capable and willing to do all the damage that Glover secretly wants but can't do because of his timidity.

Finally, the rats led by Ben kill Glover's boss Ermey. It takes for-fucking-ever to get to this obvious ending. In the filler, Glover fumes about this or that injustice and acts flummoxed by the beautiful new girl (Laura Elena Harring) at work who takes a liking to him for no reason whatsoever. Mixed in are incessant shots of rats pouring out of holes to fill rooms, and of floors covered with rat shit. It looks like these rats could teach my grandfather a thing or two about regularity.

It's a bad fucking movie, man. Awful because it's such a lame and unoriginal hack job full of tired ideas dressed up with pretty lighting. I got the sense director and writer Glen Morgan must think he's really clever and "out there", but so does an annoying receptionist who says her life should be a sitcom and constantly tells people "they broke the mold after me" because she loves "Dilbert" so much. This is the freak out shit of a very boring man who is more convinced than anyone else of his outrageousness. I bet dollars to donuts he's got a zany "Why be normal?" bumper sticker on his car.

More than being creepy, Willard goes about busily believing it is. Morgan is damn certain that just the sight of rats is scary. In fact he's so convinced he brings them out in droves in dozens of nearly identical scenes. He covers the floor of every set with rat shit with fetishistic zeal. A little shit gets the point across; a lot just feels like a desperate attempt to gross us out.

Willard is full of stuff that probably sounded cool to a hack brainstorming while stoned. I keep hearing people say having Glover play Willard was inspired casting. Bullshit. Who else was going to do it? It's the most obvious casting imaginable, and that's why every critic thinks it was so fucking great: because it's what they would have done. There's a reason critics don't make movies, you know. Glover is great in small doses, but here he's given free reign to twitch, overact, snivel and whine. He wears out his welcome with 80 minutes of movie left. The mean boss is played by the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket with the same over-the-top stridency. That gag wears itself out really fucking fast. Besides, we've seen the mean boss or the man that stole the family fortune enough already. Why not just dig up Scrooge? Glover's mother is a grotesque-looking caricature whose only purpose in the movie is to spook people by being ancient. As someone who plans to be old one day, I found it more offensive than clever. There is a montage of carnage to a campy love ballad from the 70s. That's not quite as clever as one of teen girls dancing on a bed and singing into hairbrushes, or a sports team uniting to the strains of Gloria Gaynor.

Beneath sets that are highly-polished imitations of the locales from better movies is a plot that sucks so hard it could get snot out of a duck's ass. The main revenge plot is dragged out forever. The power struggle between the big rat as the id and Glover as ego could have been interesting, but it's buried under too much literal rat shit. It's reduced to a simple series of predictable events. Glover seals a hole in the wall to keep Ben out and guess what? Ben gets in! Glover tries to kill all the rats and guess what? Ben survives! The only way we know Ben is evil is because the camera keeps showing close-ups of its eyes. I guess we should be thankful the rodent doesn't rap.

The love story goes nowhere. We're never told what fucking kind of accent Harring is trying out, but I think it's some sort of Serbian Leprechaun. "Always after me lucky mass burial sites!" She has so little screen time and so little motivation that her character wanders around as lost and confused as a 92-year-old in an Ikea. Why a gorgeous new employee with tits that swell would take a liking to the sniveling, ugly, borderline-insane guy at the office is never explained. For future reference, I'd love to know.

Willard is lousy unpleasant and smug. It's the guy with the rat on his shoulder who thinks that's the best possible way to win our admiration. One Finger.

Want to tell Filthy Something?


Filthy's Reading
Lemony Snicket - A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning

Listening to
Woody Herman - The Woody herman Story



Mose Persico of CTV, Montreal

Bringing Down the House is, "Side-splitting, knee-slapping, belly-aching laughs!"

Dreamcatcher is "Haunting! A real nail biter from start to finish!"


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