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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Willard: SE
Willard: SE
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // October 7, 2003
List Price: $27.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted October 31, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama
Short Takes

While miles shy of John Carpenter's transcendent remake of The Thing From Another World, this enthusiastic update of the 1971 goober-meets-critter buddy flick didn't grossly disappoint anywhere except the box office. You can almost hear writer/director Glen Morgan pulling each remaining hair follicle during an illuminating commentary alongside stars Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey (spliced in) and partner James Wong. After a dismal first test screening, cuts were made to earn a more marketable PG-13 rating and the film's forboding, languid pace was quickened. Round two tested even worse, so a new (and probably improved) ending was added that departed from the original film. Then a third test audience, of mostly teens, rated the flick still lower than the previous two groups. That's a third-strike death sentence in Hollywood, whereas had Morgan and Wong gone with their initial creative vision, they'd likely have done no worse and possibly quite better at multiplexes. It's a regret Morgan doesn't mask in Julie Ng's quirky "Year of the Rat" -- a feature-length "making of" documentary from pre-production to box office dud. CineSchlockers will wish many of the deleted scenes featured on the disc were reintegrated into the film, especially Mr. Martin's far more satisfying demise, complete with a torso-boring rat suggested by, get this, Steven Spielberg! In all, New Line's essentially tattled on itself by presenting another prime case where the extras nearly outshine and certainly clarify how criminally hen-pecked the theatrical presentation was. Still, it's a heckuva time. Mr. Glover so nearly out twitches Anthony Perkins in this heavily Hitchcock-minded effort, that it's inconceivable the former McFly was at the TAIL of the Willard wish list! His equally mesmerizing and HILARIOUS performance coupled with sets ALIVE with willy-inducing vermin make this a must-see, if not a great movie. (Careful not to let the skittering Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio convince you to phone an exterminator.) No breasts. Two corpses. Geriatric toe jam. Gratuitous "rats on parade" montage. Pomeranian pummeling. Clever Bruce Davidson cameo. Random porn starlet. Incontinent kitty. Commode kamikazes. Voluntary amputation. Zany accordion soundtrack. R. Lee knows no subtlety as the pitchfork rattling Mr. Martin: "There's one thing that you will never understand, Willard. Business is a rat race! Promise or no promise, I will NOT allow myself to be DEVOURED by all those other rats because of YOU!!!" (2003, 100 mins, 2.35:1 anam, DD 5.1 EX & 2.0 [What? No DTS?], Commentary, Crispin's deliriously WEIRD "Ben" music video -- watch it again [and again] with the singer/director's rapid-fire musings, Year of the Rat doc, Rat lover/hata reel narrated by the original Willard, Deleted and alternate scenes, Trailers, Coronary-inducing motion video menus for anyone with musophobia.)

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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