After last month's article on the movie Goth, featuring reviews that said it was the worst film ever made, I decided that with so many other film that have been accused of that unhappy honor, I'd made a feature of it.
Today's installment: Howard the Duck.
I recently saw Howard the Duck at a friend's weekly 80s Movie Night. I've never read the comics on which it was based, but my understanding is that they were a bit more cerebral than the movie incarnation. I'm told Howard in the comics is more of a tough guy type, whereas in the movie I kept noticing elements that seemed like leftovers of that -- his "Quack-Fu" and short temper, his porn magazines, his job as a construction worker -- but they weren't delivered in the right tone or something; like it was perpetually obvious what the joke was supposed to be (that he's a mean, tough guy, but it's ridiculous because he's a giant DUCK) but because they didn't want to make him quite mean and tough enough, the payoff did not succeed. It is a rule of comedy that one can never exaggerate too much, and it was here an example of failure for the writers to try so hard to humanize this giant duck.
The story is that Howard lives on a faraway planet where humanoid ducks are the dominant species. He is very suddenly, and for much of the film inexplicably, sucked out of his livingroom and across the galaxy in a matter of minutes, ultimately landing in an alleyway Cleveland, Ohio. He is horrified by the sight of humans but, for some reason, seems to realize that one nearby human woman is in trouble and takes it upon himself to rescue her from some unwanted sexual advances. She naturally thanks the duck by inviting him back home to her apartment. The woman is named Beverly, and she's a punk singer of some fashion that only sings terrible 80s pop/metal. Howard mentions that he used to be a songwriter and construction worker but recently gave up both jobs to work for an ad agency. Howard soon falls asleep, while Beverly goes through his wallet -- apparently in an effort to confirm his strange story -- and finds dollar bills with ducks on them, photos of Howard and his duck friends, and a condom that does not at all look like it would fit on a duck penis but whatever (these ducks also have been established earlier as having mammalian breasts.) Beverly tries her best to help Howard figure out how he got on Earth and how he can get back home by introducing him to Tim Robbins and that guy who played Joseph II in Amadeus. Howard and Beverly meanwhile go through various ordeals that lead to a greater and greater bonding between them, and thankfully just when it appears like they might try to have sex some random subplot about space demons appears out of nowhere. Of course Howard sacrifices his only chance at getting home in order to save Earth from these space demons, and he goes on to live happily ever after as Beverly's manager (her band now having become a roaring success through performing his wonderous compositions like the Howard the Duck Song.)
Consensus after 80s Night was that this movie should be remade with a motion capture Bruce Willis as Howard, and Lady Gaga playing Beverly (since she seems like someone you could actually believe would want to have a romantic relationship with a giant duck.) Here are what some of the reviews had to say about it:
1.0 out of 5 stars Stuck with one star -- it deserves none!, December 6, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Howard the Duck [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Howard the Dreck is unbearable! Someone below actually said she is hoping and praying for a sequel (fat chance). That's like hoping and praying for a root canal! Among the worst pieces of (garbage) ever to escape from Hollywood. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY OR TIME!
So if that didn't make you long to see it, what possibly could?