Howard the Duck was maybe the coolest movie I knew when I was a kid. It’s not that today, but it’s far from as bad as people say. Instead it comes of as a quite offbeat, strange mainstream movie made by someone who have no clue what’s funny or not. That’s not necessary a bad thing, I dig stuff when it’s a bit awkward, when something is not in place. I’m not really familiar with the character Howard as a comic book character, and the second time I’ve seen him was in the Guardians of the Galaxy cameo. Which was fun, because that movie have a similar atmosphere as this film - except it’s a lot better and a LOT funnier. But I’m not gonna spend this review bashing Howard the Duck, instead I’m gonna focus on the good things, stuff that people tend to forget over time.
Howard is a duck who lives a relatively quiet life on the planet of Duckworld, until the day he’s sucked out from his apartment by a strange beam and brought to earth, right in the darkest alley possible. After a couple of first shocking moments at the planet of hairless monkeys, he meets Beverly (Lea Thompson), who with her band Cherry Bombs tries to make the big time. It’s not going well, but after Howard takes care of her sleazy manager life seems to go in a better direction. But he miss home and when he gets a chance to be sent back - through the same beam that brought him there - he says yes… but something goes terribly wrong; a horrifying being called the Dark Overlord enters their life, and he wants to bring more of his friends to earth! Only Howard and his friends can stop him!
You can’t deny the legendary status Howard the Duck have. It’s still a pop culture phenomena, not necessary because everyone think it’s good, but because it’s so bizarre. Me? I think it’s a good movie. Flawed, but extremely well-made and with a certain edge I dig. My boyfriend Gregory had never seen it - it’s a scandal, I know - but he expected something more family friendly, something more lame. But Howard the Duck have a weird mix of very adult, often sexually related humor, and childish shenanigans. The character of Phil Blumburtt, a charming and scene-chewing Tim Robbins, is right out from a typical American family movie - he could have been a character somewhere in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! or something like that. Lea Thompson’s Beverly is more mature, intelligent, from a teen oriented dramedy and the you have Jeffrey Jones who’s downright scary as doctor Walter Jenning, who happens to get posssessed by the Dark Overlord! Howard himself is a cocky, self-proclaimed hero - but never too asshole-ish. Not saying I would like to spend time with him on a deserted island - I would probably make stew of him sooner or later!
The script is pretty thing, but fun characters make it work all the way through. The monster-part comes in like an afterthought, when it probably could have continued as a pure surreal, wacky and crazy comedy about Cherry Bombs and their new featherly manager. I’ve read some complains about the special effects in Howard the Duck, but to be honest: they look great. The duck-suit is quite impressive and life-like, even if those cold blue Donald Pleasence-eyes on Howard can be disturbing. I’ve read they spent 2 million dollars on the duck, and it obviously works. The visual effects, the matte paintings and the stop-motion monster at the end looks cool and gives a very comic book feeling to the film, which is a damn hard thing to do.
Anyway, I really like Howard the Duck. I think it’s a fun film - which could have used a lot more work on the script, which is where the problem lies: it just lacks depth. The characters and their goals are fun, but never makes you care to 100%. Maybe it’s time for a new adventure? I’m in, I will watch it. Wouldn’t you?