Howard the Duck

1986

Action / Adventure

2
IMDb Rating 4.6

Synopsis


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Craig Carrington

HOWARD THE DUCK is one of those movies you have to see tobelieve.<br><br>A whopping boondoggle of sheer notoriety that replaced HEAVEN'S GATE as TheMost Embarrassing Miscalculation In Hollywood History, this flickimmediately humanized George Lucas; it proved that even he could make abomb. And that's one of the things that makes it so fascinating--you justsit there, wondering what on earth the man was thinking.<br><br>I'm not going to write this with any intent of sarcastically ripping it toshreds, though. I'm going to attempt to both be fair and to express myopinion of it at the same time, mainly because I know that there *are* somefolks out there who enjoy it for various reasons.<br><br>I'll be honest with you, the moment I heard Lucas was doing this film monthsin advance (and even then I was convinced the guy telling me was kiddinguntil I saw an article for it in the paper), I rolled my eyes with disgustand didn't see it in the theatres. I saw it when a friend later rented itout of curiosity after it was rushed to video.<br><br>So what was it that suddenly possessed me to watch it? Well, I found outthat my cousin was in it. You see, my cousin's name is Debbie Carrington(a.k.a. Debbie Lee Carrington), who was an Ewok in RETURN OF THE JEDI aswell as a slew of other things, including but not limited to MEN IN BLACK,CAPTAIN EO, TOTAL RECALL (where she got to get on a table in a blonde wigand blast people with a machine gun) and on THE DREW CAREY SHOW(&quot;Mini-Mimi&quot;). So, naturally, I wanted to see this one because I learned ofher involvement in it after the fact.<br><br>Most people loathe this film, but some like it simply because it's *so*weird in its badness while others genuinely love it for whatever reason. Andthat's okay. Actually, I kind of got a kick out of it and all its sillinessthe first time I saw it. We tried to watch it a second time, though, andwere bored by it half the way through.<br><br>I just now saw it again for the first time since then.<br><br>One of the most bizarre things about this movie is how cheap it looks. Forall the gobs of cash wasted on it (a record sum), HOWARD THE DUCK looksterrible. And no, I'm not talking about just the duck costume; I'm talkingabout the overall film, which looks exactly like a low-budget special madefor television. Seriously, that's exactly how it looks, and I have no clueas to where the budget went to. I once wondered if it was used todesperately convince the stars involved to be in it, but I doubtit.<br><br>And meanwhile... speaking of the stars, I've got to hand it to Lea Thompson.Despite all the oddness here and all the stuff she is asked to do, shehandles it all like a real trooper. In fact, this may be the bravestperformance she's ever done, especially the bed scene. It also apparentlydidn't kill her career, thank God. Even though her character isn't at allfitting for a Big City Punkette, critics have nevertheless pointed out thatshe's still appealing here in her role as Beverly, and I agree. Meanwhile,Jeffery Jones gives quite possibly the strangest performance he's ever done,which is also an oddly effective one.<br><br>The biggest problem with the film is its mechanically coy, self-consciousscript that has commercialized to death all of the original comic's appealout of the final result (so what ELSE is new, Hollywood? ;) ). The moviecan't decide whether it wants to follow the original concept or sweeten itup to supposedly appeal to a wider audience, and it is badly confused as aresult. The movie desperately wants to protect its investment, so much sothat the life has been choked out of it. Also, it has a *huge* amount ofblah, unimaginatively generic lines (&quot;No more Mr. Nice Duck&quot;, &quot;You'll neverget away with this&quot;, etc.).<br><br>But these days, it does have a ridiculous kind of flaky charm, partiallybecause it's such an unbelievable anti-achievement and because it's soincredibly Eighties that it serves as a strong time capsule. And for thosereasons and more, HOWARD THE DUCK has earned a place in twentieth centuryculture.

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Reviewed by Kristine ([email protected]) 7/10

Howard the Duck is a film that I grew up with, I was only a 1 year oldwhen it was released, but my mom and I would watch it together all thetime. I think that&#x27;s the reason why this movie is just special to me.But still I watch this movie and honestly it&#x27;s not as bad as mostpeople exaggerate it to be, granted it&#x27;s not Citizen Kane, but it&#x27;sstill awesome to watch. I think people take the movie too seriously,first off look at the title, if you&#x27;re expecting a duck to deliver anOscar worth performance, get your head checked, second people make funof the &#x22;flirting&#x22; between the duck and Lea Thompson, which was meant tobe a joke, not real. Third, the ending, people make fun of it and it&#x27;sbeing over the top, I personally found it to be so funny and still aton of fun to watch, how could you not get a kick out of Jeffrey Jones&#x27;performance? He was awesome! If you wanna know what the movie is about,read on before you see the movie so you can get a good idea and judgefor yourself.<br><br>The film begins late at night in &#x22;Duckworld,&#x22; which is a version ofplanet Earth, but with talking ducks living there in place of humanbeings. As Howard tries to relax, his armchair begins to vibrateviolently, and Howard and the chair are promptly yanked throughouter-space, all the way to Cleveland on planet Earth. After ending upin an oil drum, Howard hears a fight involving a woman and two thugspretending to be her fans. Howard uses his skills of &#x22;Quack Fu&#x22; todefend her. Intimidated by a talking duck, the thugs scamper. Thewoman, Beverly, thanks Howard and, feeling sorry for him because he hasno warm and dry place to sleep, invites him to her apartment. The nextday, Beverly takes Howard to see Phil Blumburtt , who she believes is ascientist that can help Howard get back to Duckworld. It turns out Philis actually a janitor at a museum and Howard, infuriated with Phil&#x27;scharade. A few days later, Dr. Walter Jenning , and Larry who explainto Howard that they were doing a routine procedure at the lab, only forthe experiment to go out of control, causing the laser to hit Howard&#x27;splanet instead. Howard suggests he can be sent back to Duckworld if thelaser can be put into reverse. He is taken to the Dynatechnics labalongside Beverly, only to find out on arrival that the laser isseriously damaged due to another explosion. The explosion brings down a&#x22;Dark Overlord&#x22; who is not seen by the audience at the time, and takesover Jenning&#x27;s body. Howard and Beverly see Dr. Jenning, but he is inthe process of being taken over by the Dark Overlord. With Howard andBeverly both unaware of this, they escape in Jenning&#x27;s car onto thefreeway with him driving dangerously due to his worsening possession.They stop outside a diner just before he is fully taken over. Insidethe Diner, the Overlord explains his attempts to call forth his fellowaliens from the Nexus of Sominus so that they may take over the world.<br><br>Honestly, yeah the plot is a bit much to grasp, but cut the movie someslack, it&#x27;s about a duck for goodness&#x27; sake! For me, it still makes melaugh and I have a ton of fun watching it. I loved seeing Tim Robbinsand Howard trying to get to the factory to destroy Jeffrey Jones beforehe could take over the world, Tim was absolutely hilarious! Yes thereare a few things about this movie that are over the top but I stillthink that this movie is just mindless entertainment. Hey how manymovies do we have where a duck saves Planet Earth? Hmm, I guess this isthe only one; but give the movie a fair chance, it&#x27;s a cute one.<br><br>7/10

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Reviewed by col_rutherford

At a time when most of Marvel Comics' characters were stuck in lowbudget TV and straight-to-video productions, Steve Gerber's relativelyobscure Howard the Duck got the big budget treatment with none otherthan George Lucas as producer. The film was written by Willard Huyckand Gloria Katz, who co-wrote &quot;American Graffiti&quot; and &quot;Indiana Jonesand the Temple of Doom&quot;, and directed by Huyck, with special effects byILM. What could go wrong?<br><br>A lot, apparently. &quot;Howard&quot; was a critical and financial failure thatdeep-sixed the careers of Huyck and Katz and led to the cancellation ofthe duck's magazine. If the film had a moderately priced budget, itmight have been forgotten as just another lightweight, trashy 1980scomedy and even turned a profit. Instead, the budget somehow balloonedto a then staggering $37,000,000 (almost as much as the entire &quot;StarWars&quot; trilogy cost to make). Although other films lost more money andgot worse reviews, the name &quot;Howard the Duck&quot; is still synonymous with&quot;expensive turkey&quot;.<br><br>That said, the movie itself isn't as bad as it's reputation suggests.The plot revolves around the title character (voice by Chip Zien,played by various midgets in animatronic duck suits), a sarcastictalking duck from a planet a lot like Earth, except ducks evolved intothe dominant life form. Howard is brought to Cleveland, Ohio when anexperimental laser beam opens an interdimensional portal. There hebefriends an aspiring rock singer (Leah Thompson) and a kooky labassistant (Tim Robbins), and comes into conflict with various lowlifes,the police, and an evil demon that has possessed the body of a helpfulscientist (Jeffrey Jones), all the while trying to get back home.<br><br>Gerber's original comic book series and a subsequent adult-orientedmagazine weren't kids' stuff. They juxtaposed a funny animal characterwith bizarre villains and action more typical of Marvel's super-herobooks, usually parodying comics, politics, and popular culture in theprocess. A sexual relationship between Howard and his human girlfriendBeverly was more than just implied. The &quot;Howard the Duck&quot; movie couldhave either toned down the more adult situations to create afamily-friendly action-comedy, or gone straight for ribald satire andgotten an &quot;R&quot; rating. Instead, the filmmakers sought an uncomfortablemiddle ground that pleases no one. The script is not witty enough foradults and it is too sleazy and scary for young children. The endlessduck puns become tiresome. There are, however, a few truly funnymoments, such as Howard's shock at being served eggs, or hisobservation that &quot;If God intended ducks to fly, he wouldn't have takenaway our wings.&quot;<br><br>The direction is uneven. The reaction of several characters to meetinga talking alien duck seems muted given the circumstances. The specialeffects are also hit and miss. The animatronic duck suit cost millions,but the actors inside it add little personality. They could have atleast waddled when they walked. The demonic Dark Lords of the Universeat the end of the film are portrayed with stop motion animation that isjerky and unrealistic even for the time (perhaps this was intentional,though, to provide a B-movie feel). However, while a bad movie allaround, &quot;Howard the Duck&quot; at least stands out for its unique premise.Amidst a sea of formulaic mediocrity, an original idea, even if it'spoorly developed, counts for something.<br><br>** out ****

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