2003 Crispin Glover movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: The titular character's a delightful young man who works as a clerk in the company that his father started. He lives with his feeble mother in a house that is too large for the two of them and deals with daily harassment from his father's former friend and Willard's boss. He's lonely and frustrated. Luckily, he befriends some gregarious rodents that live in his basement and gets to share all kinds of fun adventures with them.

This might have the best performance from a rat that I'll ever see. No, I'm not talking about Socrates, the white mouse that Willard favors. Big Ben is the one I'm talking about. There are some quietly disturbing scenes of Ben just lingering, brooding, scheming. In a way, Ben's a lot like this movie. It's also quietly disturbing and brooding. The creep sneaks up on you in this one although with Crispin Glover's performance, the beginning isn't exactly cheery. Glover's performance, I should mention, might be the best I'll ever see from a half-man/half-rat. It's the type of performance that makes every other actor in the movie look like he's just not trying hard enough. He's also got such good rapport with his rat co-stars. Dig the gleam in his mousy eyes and the way he commands, "Tear it," as he discovers that he has some influence over the rodents. And the way he tells Socrates, "I hate everyone but you. Let's go to bed." Oh, man. Only an actor of Glover's caliber with his general psyche can appropriately balance the horror and dark comedy in this role, and Glover, just as you'd expect he would, knocks it out of the park. I just love it when he gets really angry and screams like no man should ever scream in a scene at a funeral home. Other favorite Crispin Glover moments: "You think you're funny?" after one of the rats does something really terrible and his response to his mother's "What are you doing in the bathroom?" of "I'm going potty." Speaking of his mother, Jackie Burroughs is brilliantly weird in that role. And hilarious during a conversation where she changes Willard's name to Clark and later during a Three's Company-esque misunderstanding. You've definitely got to suspend your disbelief quite a bit in order to not let some of the plot details get in the way, but this is an often funny and even more often horrifying look at a damaged mind. Great opening credits, too, with a nifty movie theme, some cool animated stuff, and a preview of some of the movie's imagery. It ends even better with Crispin Glover's version of "Ben". For you purists out there, Michael Jackson's version can be heard earlier during a scene with a kitty that is both hilarious and disturbing.

My favorite little joke from the movie is the brand name of the nuts that Willard feeds the rats--Mumm Nuts!

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