Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Just Average63.64%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, The by Jay Seaver

Laplace's Witch by Jay Seaver

Eighth Grade by Peter Sobczynski

Unfriended: Dark Web by Peter Sobczynski

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! by Peter Sobczynski

Boiled Angels: The Trial of Mike Diana by Jay Seaver

Buy Bust by Jay Seaver

Isle of Dogs by Rob Gonsalves

Room Laundering by Jay Seaver

Mega Time Squad by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

What Is It?
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"How to make yourself look better: Surround yourself with retarded people."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Probably the most representative scene in Crispin Glover's "What Is It?" is the one in which a nude woman wearing a monkey mask brings a watermelon to a naked cerebral palsy-stricken man who is sleeping on a clamshell. That wild, random confluence of images is the film's area of expertise. It's weirdness for weirdness' sake, and while I disagree fundamentally with a film that has no purpose other than to make you go "huh ... that was odd," I do concede that most of the weirdness in this case is at least interesting weirdness.

Glover, best known to many audiences as George McFly in the "Back to the Future" films, has an offscreen history of being a strange, unpredictable man, dating back to his mid-'80s appearance on "Late Night with David Letterman" in which he so unnerved Dave that the host walked off the set of his own show. Glover remains deceptively calm and coolly handsome; I noticed in my brief encounter with him at the Sundance Film Festival, where his film premiered, that he is so quietly likable that he's either the last person you'd expect to be insane, or the first.

"What Is It?" certainly does not mark a departure for Glover. It is a strange, non-narrative film in which most of the actors are mentally disabled non-professionals, and in which snails are mutilated regularly.

I would tell you what the movie is about, except I don't know. Instead, I will tell you some of the things that happen. Bear in mind that, despite having overlapping characters and settings, few of these events actually seem to have anything to do with each other.

A man with Down syndrome smashes a snail, at which point another snail arrives and (in the voice of Fairuza Balk) despairs over the death of her fellow gastropod. (It is unclear whether the snails were acquainted or whether the second one's anguish is merely general.) Then Crispin Glover himself appears as a kingly fellow in some kind of fantasy underworld, possibly as the conscience or inner psyche of the snail-killer. Glover has a minstrel. Glover plays a record that is very, very racist. Then there is a man in blackface who wants to be an invertebrate, and to that end injects himself with snail juice. Then a praying mantis kills a snail and a retarded person.

OK, I have to stop there. The fact that I just wrote "Then a praying mantis kills a snail and a retarded person" is evidence enough that no description of the film will suffice.

To determine whether it's a "good" film, I have to look at what it was trying to do, and examine whether it accomplished it. Glover clearly doesn't expect us to know what the movie means. My guess is that he wanted to experiment with film structures, narrative styles and imagery, and to make us go, "huh ... that was odd." It works -- I mean, I sure did think it was odd. I wouldn't urge anyone to see it, but I think some hardcore film buffs might find it amusing.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11291&reviewer=247
originally posted: 02/25/05 01:24:34
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/10/07 Trance This Eraserhead, Devo, Holy Mountain and David Lynch - but with Crispin Glover instead 5 stars
11/28/06 Rodneyoscopy Think Eraserhead w/ no story. Devo w/ no Talent. Think Holy Mountain w/ no imagination. 1 stars
11/21/06 Billy Backstabber Think Eraserhead x Devo x Holy Mountain with cast of retards. Unique and shocking. 3 stars
10/22/06 Rodneyoscopy Completely unlike David Lynch. Pure pretentiousness. 1 stars
9/03/05 Lisa Like David Lynch... but without the pretentiousness 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast