Film Review: Willard (2003)

Release Date: March 14th, 2003
Directed by: Glen Morgan
Written by: Glen Morgan
Based on: Ratman’s Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert, Willard by Gilbert Ralston
Music by: Shirley Walker
Cast: Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Elena Harring, Jackie Burroughs, Kimberly Patton

Hard Eight Pictures, New Line Cinema, 100 Minutes

Review:

“What an awful name. Willard. If you had a stronger name, Frank Martin wouldn’t push you around. Or maybe you’ve found a girlfriend if you’d had a more handsome name. Mark or Kyle. Clark. From now, Willard, your name’s Clark. Good night, Clark.” – Willard’s Mother

I remember that when this movie came out, I didn’t get it in my area. Also, back in 2003, we didn’t have a third of the theaters we now have and they also weren’t as big or nice. There certainly wasn’t any sort of emphasis on showing films outside of what was guaranteed to make a shit ton of cash.

So I never got to see this until the DVD release but when I did, I really liked it at the time. I think a lot of that has to do with it starring Crispin Glover, a guy I’ve always been a big fan of, as well as R. Lee Ermey, another guy I really dig.

I probably viewed this through very different eyes when I was in my early twenties because seeing it now, I found it really hard to sit through. That’s mainly due to a bad script and wonky scenes that I feel have more to do with bad dialogue and bad direction than the actors themselves.

Aesthetically, the picture is near perfect and Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey are both very convincing in their roles.

However, the pacing is really weird and the film could’ve lobbed off about twenty percent and played better.

The characters are written very thin and one-dimensional, though. For instance, the “love interest” or whatever she’s supposed to be is constantly pushing her way into Willard’s life, making him uncomfortable. It’s like she’s written with no self or situational awareness and just muscles her way into situations for plot convenience and to add tension or make things worse. She forces a cat on him that he clearly doesn’t want, only to toss it into his house where it is eaten alive by Willard’s army of rats. She also barges into his house to take a piss when Willard pretty clearly doesn’t want her inside. She’s also the only person to show up for his mother’s funeral, which is weird considering that he barely knows her. She’s just an oddly written character that comes off as more psycho and out of touch that the title character who is supposed to be the psycho and out of touch one.

Also, the actress, Laura Elena Harring, is stunning and I don’t know why the hell she’d be chasing Willard so hard or why Willard doesn’t just focus on her, as opposed to the terrible shit in his life but I digress. In the real world, Harring is a legitimate countess and she was Miss USA and Miss Texas in 1985, as well as ranking in the top ten of the 1985 Miss Universe pageant.

Anyway, this picture hasn’t aged well but I don’t think that it was very good to begin with despite my thoughts on it nearly twenty years ago. I mostly like Glover and Ermey’s performances but they do get adversely affected by poor dialogue, bad direction and scenes that run on too long for no apparent reason other trying to make it even clearer that the two characters despise one another.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the original Willard and its sequel Ben, as well as other films starring Crispin Glover.

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