Howard the Duck (1986)

PLOT:

The opening sequence of this movie is classically lame: soft jazz plays (ever so softly) as the camera lazily pans over a city scape just after sunset.  Cut to the interior of Howard’s sensible, well-furnished apartment and he’s just arriving home from what I assume was a hard day at the pond.   There are duckmovie posters up all over his apartment, including “Breeders of the Lost Stork,” which barely makes sense, and he has Playduck magazines, complete with topless, human-breasted ducks, which makes no sense whatsoever.  There’s “Rolling Egg” instead of Rolling Stone.  It goes on and on.  This movie is absolutely relentless with the bird jokes.  I recommend just keeping your eyes on the ceiling to avoid the inevitable strain of over-rolling them.  That way you won’t actually have to watch the movie, either, so there’s a nice bonus.  As Howard goes through his evening routine we only see his shadow or his backlit silhouette, but with all the water fowl-themed knock-off versions of Earth pop culture references, the framed pictures of duck people everywhere and a close up of what we’re supposed to assume is a love letter that speaks of “pressing your bill against mine,” by the time they finally get around to showing Howard we’re pretty sure he’s a duck.  In fact, we knew he was a duck already.  It’s in the title.  All the sneaky camera work was pretty much completely unnecessary.  But, the point gets made that this is some kind of “everything’s a duck” parallel universe.  Indeed, Howard is a duck, living a man’s life, until one day suddenly he’s randomly sucked through a wormhole.  As he goes flying head over heels through space an echo-y disembodied voice waxes retarded about the cosmos, alternate realities and, of course, Howard the Duck, who is apparently the beginning and end of all things.   Eventually he lands on Earth where he somehow doesn’t end up on a dissection table in a top secret underground government lab.  No, instead he gets a job, falls in love and saves the world from evil intergalactic scorpion monsters.  What a duck!
The most disturbing element of this movie was the creepy beastial romance between Howard and his punk rock love interest (who is about as punk rock as Juliet Lewis in The Other Sister).  On second thought, maybe that’s not entirely true.  Of course I was deeply disturbed by the duck-on-girl action, but I was far more upset and disgusted when punk rock love interest goes through Howard’s duckwallet and finds an UNWRAPPED duckCONDOM.  This is definitely not ok.  Even if I was into ducksex I would NEVER do it with a disgusting old unwrapped duckcondom.  And it was right in the pocket where money goes!  I don’t know about duckmoney, but peoplemoney is FILTHY.  Not cool, Howard.  Maybe that’s how they do things on Planet Duck, but here on Earth you keep that shit wrapped up until you’re ready to use it.
At the end of the day this movie was just a lame duck.   A real bad egg.  It ran afowl of my good sensibilities, if you know what I mean.  Really ruffled my feathers.  God-quackin’-damnit, make it stop.

AMBITION: 2

This was a George Lucas production ($$$$$$$).  However, because Howard the Duck was such a colossal flop (considered one of the largest and most embarrassing in Hollywood history), I believe it deserves a point or two.  After all, one of the wonderful things about bad movies is the disparity between the makers’original vision of a film and the way the film is perceived by it’s audience in the end.

PRESENTABILITY: 5

Almost too easy.  The menu: Duck (foie gras if you can get it, and for those of you bleeding heart animal lovers, trust me, when you’re through watching this movie you’ll want to force feed all the ducks you know a lot more than just grain), eggs, and a Duckfart to drink.  LOTS of Duckfarts to drink.  Once your guests have had a few I recommend a rousing game of Duck Duck Goose, as the movie will have more than worn out it’s welcome by that point.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 4

This goes beyond even inter-species sex, it’s inter-life form sex.  With dirty old germ-ridden unwrapped duck contraceptives.  Ugh, it’s just so, SO unacceptable and gross.

PERFORMANCE: 1

I feel a lot of sympathy for poor Tim Robbins, whose enthusiastic portrayal of Howard’s wacky scientist friend is humiliating at best .  Kudos to him for somehow digging himself out of this trainwreck and going on to make some decent movies.

DATABILITY: 4

The special effects date this movie the most, but they date it in a good way.  The crimped hair and bad 80s fashion, on the other hand, don’t do it any favors.

SCRIPT: 1

“No more Mr. Nice Duck.”  It hurts.  I mean, it really REALLY hurts.  Fart jokes abound (tip back those Duckfarts, everybody).

RELEVANCE: 1

I think the only moral one could possibly glean from Howard the Duck is something about acceptance of and tolerance for all forms of life, but they really didn’t even bother trying to put that point across.  This movie wasn’t about making the world a better place.  It was about George Lucas getting more bang for his duck.

ORIGINALITY: 2

He’s a duck.  That’s a creature that exists in nature, and even though he came from another dimension or whatever he’s still just a damn talking duck and that’s not a real original idea.  Sorry.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3

Most of the camera work wasn’t even remotely interesting, but I did sort of enjoy some of the inter-dimensional wormhole traveling shots.  Sort of.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 5

I totally appreciate a good mechanical puppet suit with a midget inside, and the dark overlord of the universe had some decent effects for the time.  The evil intergalactic scorpion monsters weren’t all that impressive, but they did make me miss good old-fashioned claymation.  I’ll take Gumby over Avatar any day.

TOTAL:  28

Severe constipation resulting in multiple enemas, but the doctor administering them is a real QUACK, and he sends you an outrageous BILL (I hate myself).

This Movie expressed as a Reality Comic
Considering that Howard the Duck started off as a comic, I thought it appropriate to express the movie in it’s original form, but with a realistic twist, of course:

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~ by mgjk on April 29, 2010.

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