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What Is It? (2005)

Unrated | | Drama | 27 January 2005 (USA)
What Is It? is a bewildering, unnerving, surreal, blackly comic film from the visionary mind of Crispin Glover that tells the inner and outer struggles of a young man facing villains and demons on multiple planes.


Crispin Glover (as Crispin Hellion Glover)


Crispin Glover (as Crispin Hellion Glover)
2 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Blevis Michael Blevis ... The young man (as Michael Bleviss)
Carlos Richardson Carlos Richardson ... The young man's alter ego
Lisa Fusco Lisa Fusco ... The young man's fantasy girl
Steven C. Stewart Steven C. Stewart ... Dueling Demi-God Auteur / The Young Man's Uber Ego (as Steven Stewart)
Crispin Glover ... Dueling Demi-God Auteur / The Young Man's Inner Psyche and Id
John Insinna John Insinna ... The Young Man's Outer Sanctum Friend / Inner Sanctum's Choked Victim
Kelly Swiderski Kelly Swiderski ... Inner Sanctum Concubine / Outer Sanctum Snail Collector
Robin Adams Robin Adams ... Inner Sanctum Concubine / Outer Sanctum Girl Who Recognizes Burning
Adam Parfrey Adam Parfrey ... The minstrel
Rikky Wittman Rikky Wittman ... The minstrel's nemesis (as Rickey Wittman)
Lynn Conley Lynn Conley ... The Minstrel's Concubine / Mocking Tormentor / Ultimate Outer Sanctum Victor
Cheryl Brown Cheryl Brown ... Outer Sanctum Mocking Tormentor / Walkie-Talkie Grabbing Woman That Cries Later
Tom Carroll Tom Carroll ... Grave Digger / Mocking Tormentor
Eric Yates Eric Yates ... Inner Sanctum Puppet Show Audience Member / Outer Sanctum Victim / Inner Sanctum Victim
Mary P. Hayes Mary P. Hayes ... The young man's mother


What Is It? is a bewildering, unnerving, surreal, blackly comic film from the visionary mind of Crispin Glover that tells the inner and outer struggles of a young man facing villains and demons on multiple planes.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Being the adventures of a young man whose principle interests are snails, salt, a pipe, and how to get home. As tormented by an hubristic, racist inner psyche.





Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Crispin Glover has stated at screenings that this film is his response to propaganda in cinema. See more »


See more »

Crazy Credits

This film has not advocated the assassination of Steven Spielberg in any way. See more »


Followed by It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. (2007) See more »


Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)
by Johnny Rebel
See more »

User Reviews

What is it? - Not Worth It!
21 March 2005 | by TrapTNSee all my reviews

I saw Crispin Glover's "What Is It?" at the Ann Arbor film festival. Admittedly, the film was at least aptly named, because I got the distinct sense that even the writer/director could provide no answer. At the question and answer session after the screening, Mr. Glover said that the film was originally meant to be a short film to show the virtue of using actors with down-syndrome. However, this is in itself not enough of a reason to create a film. Actors are, in my opinion, building blocks for a larger vision - a larger vision that seemed muddled at best and absent at worst.

Crispin Glover also said that he wanted to address taboo subjects. Well, he does do that. But why? The film seems to have no stance, no reason for addressing anything. Does he feel these things shouldn't be taboo? The film doesn't even give me an indicator of that. Taboo for the sake of taboo is not interesting. It can't even afford to make the taboo disturbing or inciting on any level because he hasn't made the audience care in any way.

Ignoring problems with the concept for a moment, the thing that actually shocked me most was how poorly the film was put together. The editing, cinematography, and other technical aspects seemed frequently to be extremely amateur. Glover said 125-150 thousand dollars went into the movie, and I feel that the money should have been spent on different designers (Glover actually did some design himself - I know I saw at least sound design in the credits). The painted sets are okay (not great), but used poorly. Parts feel like a photographed stage play - which would be fine if that went to any sort of purpose, but in Glover's hands it just feels sloppy. Other parts are filmed like a sort of Home Movie, of inferior quality to a lot of the stuff I see first-time filmmakers do on iMovie.

Perhaps the biggest problem with "What Is It?" is I can't even understand how seriously the film is to be taken. There are some parts that feel like Glover is screaming at you to think seriously. At other points, he seems off on his own little joke. Perhaps he meant for this to be ironic, or meaningful in some way, but I just felt that Glover couldn't even get himself to give his film any sort of serious attention.

Glover said he originally wanted it to be a short film. If only it had been. At seventy-two minutes, the film runs out of imagery and ideas in the first twenty, and it is arguable if the ideas were formulated enough to claim that they were even there for that period of time.

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Release Date:

27 January 2005 (USA) See more »

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