(2003) - A Hollywood Jesus Movie Review
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(2003)


This page was created on March 17, 2003
This page was last updated on May 29, 2005


Review -click here
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Dial up modems will take a few moments

CREDITS

Click to enlargeDirected by Glen Morgan
Book by Gilbert Ralston (Ratman's Notebook)
1971 screenplay by Gilbert Ralston
Screenplay by Glen Morgan

Crispin Glover .... Willard
David Parker .... Detective Boxer
Jackie Burroughs
Kristen Cloke .... Dr. Bludworth
R. Lee Ermey .... Frank Martin
Laura Elena Harring
Rick Lazzarini .... Puppeteer
Kim McKamy

Click to enlargeProduced by
Richard Brener .... executive producer
Bill Carraro .... executive producer
Toby Emmerich .... executive producer
Glen Morgan .... producer
James Wong .... producer

Original Music by Shirley Walker
Cinematography by Robert McLachlan
Film Editing by James Coblentz

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for terror/violence, some sexual content and language.
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG

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SYNOPSIS
Click to enlargeLife has become one big trap for Willard (Glover). Socially burdened and saddled with a miserable job, Willard seems stuck. Until he makes an eerie discovery: he shares a powerful bond with the rats who dwell in his basement. Suddenly, Willard has friends. Hundreds of them. Even the beautiful office temp who reaches out to Willard takes a backseat to Socrates, Ben and the rest of the rat legion. And when Willard's world is turned upside-down by tragedy, those responsible must answer to his rapidly growing pack of ravenous, fearsome friends.
REVIEW BY
David Bruce
Web Master, HollwoodJesus.com

Click to enlargeRats are a symbol of growing anger in this film. As Director Glen Morgan says, "This is the story of a very lonely, angry young man. Something Crispin Glover pointed out that I like is how the rats just kind of appear. The rats are a manifestation of Willard's anger. And if you don't get rid of that anger then it's literally going to eat you."

Director Morgan, taking cues from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and The Birds, using a house to represent Willard's crumbling family heritage and animals as a reflection the human soul.

Click to enlargeWillard works for Mr. Martin, the former business partner of his deceased father. Martin is intent on completely taking control of the Martin family business. Willard is the only remaining obstacle. Martin makes Willard's life miserable. The otherwise kind and gentle Willard becomes increasingly angry.

Click to enlargeAs Willard begins to manifest his anger a rat, named Socrates, appears. Then, as Willard's anger grows, so does his rat population. Willard is also emotionally conflicted. Director Morgan infused the film's two key rats, Socrates and Ben, with characteristics that reflect Willard's inner conflict, and additionally, represent Willard's parents. For example, like Willard, Socrates loses his mother, and Ben possesses shades of Willard's father. "The two rats also represent our good and bad sides: how Willard can come to love this little rat (Socrates) that came in from the basement, yet ultimately decides to go the way of Ben," Morgan explains.

Click to enlargeThe color of the rats underscore their differences. Socrates is small and white, while Ben is large and a dark gray (gloomy and evil).

The rat infestation begins in the basement --the dark unseen recesses of the house. The connection here, is the unseen evil that often festers deep in the human soul. In fact, the house becomes a character. Built in the style of the late 1800s, the house reflects the grandeur and emotional idealism of that age-or at least the illusion of it-yet its furnishings are from the 1970s, indicative of when things took a turn for the worse for the Stiles family. The parlor, long since abandoned by guests, has been turned into a shrine to Willard's father, who gazes down upon his family from the portrait above his urn, his ashes -and his ghost- never really buried.

Click to enlargeWith Willard's sadistic boss, Mr. Martin, chipping away at the Stiles house, Crispin Glover sees the structure as representing the total of Willard's heritage. "Mr. Martin is ultimately trying to get rid of this house," the actor says. "And there are many things eating away at the foundation, not just the rats. Everything is going against the solidity of his background. And that's psychologically traumatizing."

What pulls us along in this film, which has received favorable reviews, is the need to know the outcome. Will Willard experience justice, or will he become a rat himself, or will the rats eventually turn on Willard?

Here is a film that teaches us great lessons about unchecked anger.

When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs (Thomas À Kempis).

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