Howard the Duck (1986)

Howard the Duck (1986)

Directed by: Willard Huyck

Starring: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins

Howard the Duck is a… strange film. It’s very vaguely based on a comic book series which was originally meant to lampoon the comic book industry, sort of an existential self-parody. The humor in the Howard the Duck comics is more in how Howard has no powers, but is constantly put in the way of super-villains, monsters, and aliens just because he happens to be a duck guy. The movie just takes away the top layer of that idea, and changes it to be a more serious type of comic adventure, which is basically just admitting that they didn’t “get it”. It’s like if National Lampoon made a movie about The Maxx.

Howard is an ordinary duck from a planet called Duckworld, which is exactly like our planet, but people are duck people. He gets sucked through space to Earth by some techno-gizmo or other and meets an aspiring rock singer, Beverly Switzler. Together they discover that the scientist who accidentally brought Howard to Earth also accidentally brought another creature, one of the “dark overlords of the universe”, which inhabits and grows inside the scientist’s body. Only Howard and Tim Robbins can stop his mad scheme to take over the Earth.

Yeah, it’s kind of a dumb movie and they completely missed the point of their source material, but there’s some entertaining stuff in Howard the Duck, especially the special effects, which look pretty damn good for 1986. And, again, that’s apparently why this movie bombed, because they spent so damn much money on the special effects that they couldn’t recoup it with the mediocre comedy that wouldn’t appeal to fans of the original material. As an interesting note, it turns out that focusing on special effects was the idea of the film’s producer, some guy named George Lucas, whoever THAT is.

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