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  • Gareth Crook

Howard the Duck (1986) - 2/10

Why am I watching Howard the Duck? Well, I’ve never seen it and I’m indulging in a little 80s nostalgia. Plus I heard it was really bad. Howard, is a duck. From a planet full of ducks. Where ducks live out their lives as we do. Watching rubbish TV, singing in the bath. Until Howard is dragged through an intergalactic wormhole, deposited in an alley on earth, pulled into a nightclub where Beverley (Lea Thompson) is singing with her band Cherry Bomb, then thrown out, attacked and winding up in a trash can. Where he then witnesses Beverley being assaulted and comes to the rescue, “No more Mr nice duck”. Beverley is quite rightly confused. As is Howard… as am I. Wondering how this got made. It’s clear from the outset that this is indeed a bad film. The acting is ridiculous and it looks cheap, although probably wasn’t. How much did an animatronic duck head cost in the 80s? Beverley invites Howard back to her apartment where they try to figure out what’s happened. The gag is that Howard is just like us… in duck form. With a Mallardcard that shops at Bloomingducks. It wears thin quickly. They need help, so enlist Phil (Tim Robbins) who’s under qualified for such matters but owns a lab coat. It’s supposed to be funny. Clearly not taking itself seriously but I’m not laughing. I’m thinking I might not make it to the end. Howard decides he needs to find a job. This makes no sense at all as he’s supposed to be laying low. He soon changes his mind though after hearing about duck hunting season, but only after a stint in a sauna/brothel. I’m really not sure who this film was aimed at. There’s very little substance. The idea seems to be just to put him in supposedly amusing situations. Getting into fights. Dancing. Ogling Beverley in her underwear. It’s weird as hell why not engage some beastiality too! Half way through, someone finally decides to try and add some context, with Dr Jenning (Jeffrey Jones) turning up to explain that he and some other science types were doing some experiments with a laser (everything in the 80s was lasers) and they lost control. Trying to get Howard back home, they head to the lab where another experiment has gone out of control, leaving Jenning possessed and setting the cops are on a duck hunt. I really didn’t think it could get any worse, but when Jenning declares he’s now the “Dark overlord of the universe”. Seriously who wrote this drivel! I’m looking for some glimpse of light, one decent joke, anything! The best I can do is the waitress in the diner, at least her comic timing is good. The dark overlord creature in the finale is too in all its slimy badly composited glory, but this film really is terrible. Apparently it’s failure though lead to George Lucas being forced to sell off his new CGI department to Steve Jobs, who turned it into Pixar. Every cloud. It is really bad. Maybe it’s so bad it’s good? No it’s just bad, but for some reason I can’t explain, I’m glad I finally watched it.



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