Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Howard the Duck (Willard Huyck, 1986) Review

It seems fitting that on the same day Guardians of the Galaxy released 28 years ago was this other Marvel film. We already know now that Guardians of the Galaxy was not only a commercial success but also a critical success. Sadly,I can't say the same for Howard the Duck if you couldn't tell. That's why you've probably never heard of him.and you can tell just from the image what's wrong with this. Anyway, let's take a look at Howard the Duck.

On a planet where anthropomorphic ducks are the dominant species, Howard (Chip Zein) is relaxing at home when an experimental machine from Earth captures him and sends him to our planet. Now stuck on Earth, Howard tries to fit in but finds it difficult because...he's a duck. He does manage to befriend rocker Beverly (Lea Thompson) and impress her friend Phil (Tim Robbins) however things get worse when it's revealed that Howard wasn't the only alien taken to Earth but these aliens are far less friendly.
Howard the Duck has some bad, bad acting. Really bad. Chip Zein as the voice of Howard is the only actor that stands out probably because he's just voicing a character rather than having to act opposite a guy in a duck suit. Lucky him. I could be bias because I loved Lea Thompson's work in the Back to the Future trilogy but I can't defend her here. Not only do I have no idea why she did this, I have no idea why the film was even made. They are clearly trying to make this a family film since it was rated PG but...the film starts off with a naked duck in the bath...a naked anthropomorphic duck. No idea but I wish I could unsee it. It's not even in the background as the shot lingers on it for a few seconds. It's unsettling. That's the key element here: it's unsettling. Geofrey Jones, bless him for his work in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Beetlejuice, hams up his role but probably too much. It comes off as cheesy and silly. God knows what Tim Robbins was thinking.

I'll go through why Howard the Duck can't work as a film in the first place (and Marvel would be smart to avoid it in the future no matter what the hint at). Yes, Rocket Raccoon is an anthropomorphic animal from another planet too however A) He's likable and B) he's part of a team that rivals the Avengers. He has people backing him up. Howard doesn't. He's an unlikable drunken douchebag whose franchise promotes bestiality. The film was dangerously close to crossing this line too. There are some lines you don't cross and that's one of them. The rest of the cast are also bland and lifeless. Howard is the only memorable character and that's because he's a freaking duck!

Howard the Duck is a low point in Marvel's cinematic career. It's not the lowest but it's close. (Yes, there are films worse than this amazingly). Howard himself is the only good thing about it and I'mr eally streatching the word "good". The actors are either bad or misplaced. Howard the Duck is a bad idea for the film from the very beginning as it would not only suck but not sell very well either...and look what happened. Howard the Duck sucks and bombed at the box office. It was a failure and wasn't even good enough to gain a cult following. Avoid at all costs and let's pray Marvel doesn't do it again..then again they made Rocket and Groot work so...we'll see.

Silly, stupid, poorly acted and was dead on arrival anyway.

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