Howard the Duck (1986)

howardtheduck

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The Marvel Comics character gets his own movie in this 80’s cult classic produced by the one and only George Lucas.

Duckworld is the home of Howard T. Duck. He seems to live a relatively simple life. However, his life is about to take a drastic turn when an apparent earthquake sends him into outer space and heading towards Earth. He lands in Cleveland, Ohio, and after learning he is in a world he never imagined, he finds himself saving a rock singer in Beverly, who takes a liking to the fowl. Determined to get home, he learns that Beverly may be able to help that happen.

When Beverly’s lab assistant friend Phil introduces Howard to Drs. Carter and Jenning, Howard has learned that a test run using a laser has sent Howard to Earth and they may be able to send him home. However, on the day Howard is ready a leave, an accident causes Dr. Jenning to become possessed by an alien life form known as the Dark Overlord. The Dark Overlord intends to use the laser to send in more of him through human possession and when Jenning kidnaps Beverly, Howard must soon become the hero he never expected to become.

Created in 1973 by the duo of writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik, Howard the Duck got his start in Marvel’s Adventure with Fear before eventually getting his own comic title in 1976. A decade after his comic title started, George Lucas had a hand in bringing the character to life with the help of his collaborators Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck. After the trio’s successful collaboration on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the idea was to unleash this character on screens and for one reason or another, it may have been a box-office bomb, but it is hailed as a cult classic to this day.

To give the film an 80’s rock edge, Thomas Dolby was in charge of the soundtrack and lead actress Lea Thompson did all of her own singing in the film. She plays Beverly as someone who is a victim of circumstance, but finds Howard as her shot at doing something good and even takes a liking to him. Those who like Tim Robbins acting comedic and goofy will get their just desserts as he plays lab assistant turned ally Phil as a very insane man. As for Howard himself, Ed Gale does the physical work while Chip Zien voices the character with a lot of puns and smartaleck dialogue. Jeffrey Jones gives an over the top performance during his possession scenes as Jenning and even post-possession, he even goes a bit over the top and it’s more laughable than to be taken seriously.

Howard the Duck is one of those films that may have attempted to be taken seriously, but it just can’t be taken seriously. It is goofy. It is campy. And it is definitely seen as a cult classic for all the right reasons.

WFG RATING: C+

Universal Pictures presents a LucasFilm production. Director: Willard Huyck. Producer: Gloria Katz. Writers: Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz; based on the Marvel Comics character by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik. Cinematography: Richard H. Kline. Editing: Michael Chandler and Sidney Wolinsky.

Cast: Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, Ed Gale, Chip Zien (voice), Paul Guilfoyle, Liz Sagal, Dominique Davalos, Holly Robinson Peete, Tommy Swerdlow, Richard Edson, Miles Chapin.

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