Howard the Duck

Howard the DuckSynopsis: From executive producer George Lucas and the pages of Marvel Comics comes this unbelievably funny comedy about a fast-talking, cigar-chomping, beer-loving duck from a parallel universe who crashes to Earth.


Howard the Duck 4.0

eyelights: Lea Thompson. Jeffrey Jones. John Barry’s classy score. Howard ‘s expressiveness.
eyesores: most of the performances. the paint-by-numbers plot. its trite dialogues. its lack of excitement. the crappy stop-motion.

“No one laughs at a master of Quack Fu!”

Look, most of us have heard of the debacle that is ‘Howard the Duck’, the 1986 cinematic marvel which is considered by many as one of the worst motion pictures of the last three decades. Personally, I was never interested in it – even at the time, when I was thirteen and more likely to find it appealing.

But one day I was able to get the DVD for 5$, brand new, and I thought I might as well make up my own mind. My tolerance for bad cinema had increased over the years, anyway, and since I had just gone through a bunch of ‘Star Wars‘ stuff lately, I figured I’d see what else Lucas had been up to.

‘Howard the Duck’ basically tells the story of Howard, an inhabitant of Duckworld, who is mysteriously propelled to Earth and stranded there. It tells of his encounter with a young rock star (Lea Thompson), his quest to return home, and his attempt to prevent an evil alien from taking over the planet.

Ultimately, my impression is “What’s the point?”; why would this movie get made?

It’s based on a comic book, but it’s live action, with an animatronic Howard. It’s for mature audiences (in that there are bare-breasted ducks with nipples, Howard reads Playduck, carries condoms and drinks beer), but he is a half-puppet and the humour is sad in the way comedies are when geared towards ten-year-olds.

And it’s just really, really dull.

The only things worth mentioning are John Barry’s classy score, which is an A-grade composition reminiscent of his ‘The Living Daylights‘ (but in a B-grade picture), Lea Thompson (just for being there, not because of her performance or her disturbing thigh gap) and the impressive expressiveness of Howard’s animatronic head.

Oh and Jeffrey Jones as the main villain. He was a lot of fun to watch.

Beyond that, this is one dreadfully inert movie, marred by crappy performances and a middle-of-the-road script that uses déjà vu comedy to put Howard in the “duck out of water” role. Ho hum. It even fails on some technical levels (surprisingly, given Lucas’ involvement), such as the crappy stop-motion creatures at the end.

‘Howard the Duck’ would be the first in a long line of post-‘Star Wars’ disappointments from George Lucas, but it’s not nearly as bad as it’s been made out to be; there have been plenty of equally lame motion picture of this ilk before and since. I suppose it’s just a question of expectations.

Particularly after ‘Star Wars’.

In any event, it made me want to watch ‘Starman‘ for some reason (possibly because they similar main lines and because they came out within a couple of years of each other), and I did the following night. Check that one instead; it’s not great, but it has infinitely more heart than this lame duck.

Date of viewing: December 29, 2015

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