Steve Gerber was a comic genius – Man Thing was my favourite comic ever pretty much hands down yessiree no competition the bomb and all that jive. His other fuck up Howard The Duck– while not in the same league for me was up there too, hell I live by Howard’s call sign – “Trapped In A World He Never Made” – that there was my life as a teenager, it still is. But the movie of old Howy well that’s a completely different ball game. Sure its got Howard and even Beverly but they aint the same at all. Hell, Beverly was much hotter in the comic than Lea (Caroline In The City) Thompson could ever hope to be. Although Lea does scrub up all right in her scanties it must be said. Enough to give any Duck a woody. The big problem is Howard though – I just kept thinking of Hornswoggle in the WWE! This poor fucker is trapped in a ducksuit he never made… and they needed 8 ducks according to the credits to do it! What? couldn’t find one kid dumb enough to do the whole flick? I’m no fan of CGI technology but in this case I wish they had invented it sooner. Howard needed something to make his case more believable. But just to contradict myself, there’s a great old fashioned harryhausen stop motion monster at the end that had me cheering, so what the hell do I know anyway? I hate the kid in a duck suit but love the stop motion harryhausen… but its that kinda movie you know? Confusing, strange, full of holes, dumber than a reality show contestant but for some reason still fun.
Since I don’t give a shit for Star Wars or Indiana Jones I don’t care that George Lucas was involved, I mean all he did was put the money up anyway, he didn’t write or direct so he just put up the cash… hell, he’s got plenty of it anyway so what the fuck… and he would have got a handy tax break when it failed so we’ll ignore him. His one smart move was ensuring the film didn’t get a re-release in the US thus ensuring its cult status simply because no one could see it again and remember how dumb it was. The film has Howard transported from his duck-world to being plonked into Cleveland (cue Cleveland jokes) by a wayward laser beam type machine that one Dr Jennings (Jeffrey Jones at his peak) was fiddling with. Howard meets Beverly a would be rock star after he saves her with Quack-Fu from a coupla those drippy 80s punks that all the movies seemed to use as bad guys… you know the ones, lots of pink hair, vinyl but not a coldsore or a genuine dirty shirt between them… that aint punk, fuck off! And all the songs are popsongs too – I mean, Thomas Dolby?! How punk can you get? I digress. Howy and Beverly become strange sort of bedfellows and she introduces him to Tim Robbins who seems to be the only one besides Jones to realise this is a crock of duckshit and so overacts with a wonderful abandonment that really makes the flick. When Dr Jennings tries to send Howard back something fucks up on the laser and instead Jennings becomes the human vassal for a dark overlord from some other dimension who is of course intent on taking over the world.
This is when the movie really kicks into gear and takes on a real 80s/Disney feel but hell its fun, its got car chases, quack-fu, Jeff Jones playing a mad evil overlord who crackles with power, Robbins and Howard flying one of them little light plane gizmos that people periodically crash into fields across the world and a stop motion monster! What more could you want for your dollar? And just what was it about the 80s anyway? Blues Brothers and this film both destroy cop cars willy nilly in a big budget blow-out by big time names that become cult movies years after they crashed and burned the first time… what did the cops ever do to Lucas and Landis anyway? And the great chase scene with Howard and Robbins in that little plane gizmo is the one time that you really forget that the duck is a costume, you can really let go and just run with the fun, pity that couldn’t happen more often because ultimately that is the film’s greatest weakness. But you know what, once you forget about the suit you will believe a duck can talk! And it is fun, in that hokey Disney 80s way and the second half alone is worth it just for Jones and his overlord shtick… he plays that baby to the hilt.
Of course Howard saves the day, saves Beverly and sends the overlords packing but to do it he has to destroy the laser so his only portal home is closed as well. Of course he then does what any duck would do. He becomes the manager for Beverly’s band and gets on stage to rock out as they sing “Howard The Duck” ! and I’m betting a certain midget in Minneapolis watched this part of the flick over and over. Short guy on stage with scantily clad girl musicians, cheesy 80s keyboards, short guy wailing away at his guitar while the crowd goes wild – you just know Prince loves this movie.
So what do we have here? Hard to say really. Its too long for a start but if you prepare your dips, crackers and beer during the first half while sorta keeping an eye on things, especially Lea in her scanties well then the second half is a ball. No gore, no sex, no real violence just a lot of yee ha chases, dumb jokes and fun. What the hell, I say watch it, hell, it’s all good clean fun and I guarantee you’ll walk away singing, “Howard The Duck.”
DIRECTOR(S): Willard Huyck | COUNTRY: USA | YEAR 1986 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Umbrella Entertainment | RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 1:85 | REGION: 0 | DISCS: 1