“Willard” 2003 has a very Tim Burton motif that just didn’t work and with characters that were over the top, and a love interest that’s under-used, it’s not hard to believe there’s barely a story to see here, especially one that is just comprised of Willard seeking revenge on his enemies through the mice. There’s nothing but filler and mild violence that hardly displays the carnage of the mice who are supposed to be the devil incarnate, the devil in Willard, but nothing is accomplished except a lot of tricks involving rats. This time around, there’s a loon playing a loon, in this case Crispin Glover who is delightfully over the top as Willard himself.
He’s fun to watch here as Willard the shouting and often times groaning Willard who wants to control his life in a very Norman Bates manner. He’s good here with his pathetic scowling and pleading, to his menacing psychotic grimacing when he is in control of the rats. Then there’s also the always hot Laura Elena Harring as the kind Cathryn who witnesses Willard’s torture by his menacing boss (R. Lee Ermy) and his co-workers. There are a lot of good sequences here including Willard’s interaction with the rats, and his rivalry with Ben. One of my main quibbles with the film, one of many, is that the mice just aren’t menacing. I don’t care how menacing they tried to make them look with red eyes and computer rendering these looked simply like trained mice without any personality whatsoever.
These mice didn’t have a sense of dread to them. Glover pulls the weight with a large over the top performance screaming, and emoting with such insanity that it’s almost comical, and who’s second best with over the top performances? R. Lee Ermy of course. He plays wicked boss man Frank Martin with a lot of zeal; so much zeal that when he yells he spits at the cameraman whom you know is laughing at his screaming, a shtick that wore thin years ago. Then there’s the godly underused talents of Laura Elena Harring who is the only human link to Willard, but is hardly shown enough, considering her performance could be an important and integral one to the story. Despite a good performance from Glover, “Willard” never scares, never pulls off enough tension, and the rats are bland.