7/25/17

HOWARD THE DUCK - REVIEW


Back in 1986, Executive Producer George Lucas brought us a Marvel character in all his live-action glory. That character was Howard The Duck, a talking duck from another planet who somehow gets propelled through space all the way to Earth where his adventure truly begins.

The film was critically panned and a box-office failure but it remains one of those cinematic question marks like Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter you just can't avoid. For one thing, if you grew up in the 80's, it's unlikely you missed this odd little movie: whether you know the comics or not, the title alone just screams "watch me!". The titular duck was portrayed by Ed Gale with Chip Zien providing the voice and the cast included Lea Thompson as Howard's friend and love interest Beverly, Tim Robbins as their annoying sidekick and Jeffrey Jones as a scientist who slowly turns into main villain Dark Overlord, some kind of space demon. The first half of the film is focused on Howard's duck-out-of-water story as he tries to figure out a way to go home or adapt to his new world somehow. He is helped by rock singer Beverly whom Howard initially saves from a bunch of street thugs using the ancient martial-art of Quack-Fu. The film is packed with countless duck puns and silly set-ups, some of which are sort of amusing but many of which are either wasted or pointlessly raunchy.

The tone throughout yo-yos between adult humour (sex spas, duck condoms, Playduck Magazine) and family-friendly shenanigans and both unfortunately don't really gel leaving us to wonder who this film was for. The second half of the film is particularly hard to sit through as the plot stagnates and we limp to a tired climax that, frankly, doesn't feel worth the two hours spent watching this goofy flick. Half an hour could have easily been excised in editing thereby improving the movie's pace considerably but, as it stands, this becomes a surprisingly watch-checkingly dull movie by the halfway point. On the plus side, the special effects throughout are pretty cool, the puppeteering on Howard is decent and you can tell the filmmakers actually tried to make such a silly concept work. Had more time been spent re-writing the film's plot to make it snappier with the whole Dark Overlord scenario taking place much earlier and quickly developing into a bigger threat for Howard to deal with, we could have had a genuinely fun, if still pretty random, movie.

While not the complete disaster it's often painted as, Howard The Duck certainly doesn't live up to its source material or even its title, despite having its charm. It suggests a lot of funny ideas and sets up some potentially entertaining scenes but it constantly fails to deliver and the result is, quite simply, a missed opportunity.

Disappointingly uneven.

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