- Directed by Willard Huyck
- August 1, 1986
A humanoid duck is pulled to Earth and with the help of a struggling rocker and a nerdy scientist must stop an alien invasion.
Howard the Duck is one messed up movie…in a good way. There is just something entertainingly weird about it from beginning to end. This is as if everyone on the movie was taking drugs and didn’t quite fully comprehend what they were producing.
In reality this movie was originally intended to be animated but some weird contractual obligation forced them to produce it as a live action film. What exactly that all stipulated I do not know. If this movie had been released in the originally intended animated format I think it would’ve been successful rather than just attain a cult status. It definitely has more of an animated feel to it. Perhaps they just did not take the time or know how to tweak the script enough to make it work better in live action with the special effects limitations of the time.
Howard the Duck, created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, is a more comedically oriented character from the 70s. His stories are social satires or parodies of genre fiction. The character itself has a bit of a cult following. Perhaps calling Howard a cult character might not be accurate but he’s not centerstage in the Marvel universe. However he has been a regular presence throughout since his creation.
What we have here is a very 80s movie that is clunky and cumbersome and cheesy and yet somehow manages to be entertaining. I never saw this in theaters, but I did catch it on the regular when local stations would run movie marathons. I miss those days. Oddball gems like this were introduced to me.
Howard the Duck has interesting practical effects. That duck suit for example was unlike anything I had ever seen. I still think that is one of the better things when it comes to the effects though I do draw issue with the feet. The looked like some cosplay shoes I made once.
Howard’s home planet is called Duckworld. Duckworld is a weird little place seen at the opening of the film. Howard’s home is pretty much Earth but with two moons. Any human would feel at home there and I guess that is the point. The weirdest thing there though is that you see duck boobs with nipples. I mean that’s weirder than the old lady Aughra with the saggy boobs and nipples in The Dark Crystal. Why would you do that?
We also meet Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson) who is his permanent love interest in the comic books. In this movie Beverly is a very stereotypical 80s female rocker. Speaking of stereotypical, Tim Robbins shows up as stereotypical nerd Phil Blumburtt.
Before that child porn stuff, Jeffrey Jones was the go-to comedic villain/comedic heavy in films of the era more often than not it seemed to me. That is what I recall him most for (aside from the whole solicitation thing). Here he plays Dr. Walter Jenning who gets possessed by the Dark Overlord of the Universe who plans on bring others to Earth for conquest because that is just what they do.
The character of Howard was not necessarily aimed at children but this movie most definitely is or at least appears to be in parts. It straddles points between child friendly and kind of raunchy. You’ll recall I mentioned duck nipples.
The acting is bad and the story is cheesy but this still manages to charm. It is not great but is entertaining and like all guilty pleasures you find yourself pulled in each and every time. The individual parts vary from weak to bad but together they create magic.
Howard the Duck is bad comedy but it’s bad comedy that somehow manages to entertain. If you go in willing to embrace the cheese, then you’ll definitely have a good time. I recommend this one!