Monday, September 22, 2014

Infamous Films: Howard the Duck

If he's important enough to get a Cameo in Marvel's biggest film of the year, he's important enough to get his film reviewed.  Today's film is Howard the Duck, the film that inadvertently helped form Pixar.  Yes, you're welcome.  I'll get to that weird little factoid more deeply in the Closing.  Back in the mid 1980s, George Lucas was riding high in the wake of Star Wars.  He put about $50 million into building his now-famous Ranch and looked to Produce a film to make some of that back.  The film was this one.  You know how that ended up.  While it is by no means one of the most financially-unsuccessful films ever- that still belongs to recent far like 47 Ronin or John Carter-, it got a reputation as being a bomb.  That led to the goofy Cover Art showed the other day when Europe/Asia were the film's last chances to make its money back.  So who is Howard the Duck?  He's a weird and wacky one-off Character created by the late Steve Gerber (who wrote a couple of the My Crazy Youth Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series) that spun off into being a minor, pop culture icon.  This led to the acerbic quacker getting the first feature-length Comic Book Film (not counting a Theatrical release of the Captain America Serial)!  Yes, the rise of Marvel and DC in Theaters (and countless billions in Box Office) started here!  The movie excises alot of what made the Character work and really makes you wonder how films got a PG back in 1986!  You may know the film's reputation, but do you know the film?  To find out, read on...
Howard is a formerly-ambitious Duck who lives a life of unhappiness.  The Universe has something to say about that though.
While many focus on the infamous 'Duck Tits' moment (and I do too), I would like to focus on the 'guy' on the left.  As the Internet likes to ask 'Is This Racist?'
Howard is transported to Cleveland and is very upset about it.  When some overzealous 'fans,' try to mess with a lady Rock Singer, he jumps into action with his Quack-Fu!
Howard, his new friend Beverly and (Future Academy Award Winner) Tim Robbins try to find out what happened.  For no good reason, Howard is kind of an asshole to the guy trying to help him...
On his own, Howard runs into some issues.  The highlight for me is this lady at the Unemployment Office who thinks that Howard is a guy in a weird costume who doesn't want a job.

Yeah, the three-foot tall talking Duck is clearly...someone trying to 'live on the dole.'  Reagan's America!
Somehow this film got a PG Rating.  Even with this scene that involves Beverly putting the moves on Howard (with a boner joke!) and only being interrupted by Robbins and two other Scientists.  Weird.
Howard gets in trouble with the Cops after an attempt to send him back to his Planet ends in an exploded piece of Equipment.  The Police Captain is...Captain Brass from C.S.I.!!!

Were you always a Cop?
The earlier explosion put the spirit of a freaky, space Demon in the body of the Lead Scientist (Jeffrey Jones).  He eventually gets all of his powers and plans to send more of his people here.

Fortunately, they get him out of Jones.  Unfortunately, he reveals his true form!
Thanks to a bunch of silly science, the creature is destroyed and the invasion stopped.

Unfortunately, Howard is stuck here...but he can at least rock out here on Earth now!  The End.
This one is...weird.  Is it a Kid's Film?  Is it a film for Adults?  Is it a wacky Comedy?  Is it a Science-Fiction film?  Well, I guess it is sort of all of them.  The tone, style and substance are all over the map.  In one bit, Howard is interrupted from starting to look at Playduck Magazine, while in another he's doing karate.  One Scene has him cleaning up a Strip Club Bathroom, while another has him flying in an Ultra-Lite Plane!  It is not easy to see why alot of people don't like this.  It is pretty simple: the film itself doesn't know what it wants to be!  If you can't agree on what kind of film you want to make, how big can your film be?  Having said all that, I...don't hate it.  As a film, it is a weird and bizarre mess...but what a fun mess it is.  I will freely admit that I like the crazy stuff and that my views don't represent everyone's.  Of course, it is my site, so you clearly care what I think.  Well, that or you really love that one Ramone's album- if so, sorry.  I should review that sometime, huh?  On the plus side, the financial failure of this film forced Lucas to sell his new CGI-Animation Division to Steve Jobs and give us Pixar.  If you love Toy Story, you have this one to thank.  Howard the Duck is one of the more infamous train wrecks in cinema history.  Does it deserve to be?  Yeah, kind of.  Much like stuff like Tank Girl, I just can't hate it though.  Just to complete any review of this film, here are the infamous 'Duck Tits'...
Next up, a Video Game tie-in Film that's actually...good.  While I'm not a big Halo fan, this one does what so many others have failed to do!  Stay tuned..

1 comment:

  1. Howard rocks! The comics were great -- they're still available as reprints in a trade paperback -- and the film is nowhere near as bad as people make out. It looked like a kids' film, but it was very adult. That's probably why it flopped. The target audience thought they would be watching a cartoon. Let's hope that Howard gets another chance to star in a feature film. Or better still, a TV series! He could start off by guest starring in "Agents of SHIELD".