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Considered one of the most notorious box-office flops in history (next to
the 'Road to Morocco'-ripoff 'Ishtar' with Dustin Hoffman and Warren
the following year), 'Howard the Duck' became the laughing stock of
and movie-goers alike when it was released in theaters in 1986. If its
executive producer, George Lucas, had his way, he would have canned that
movie for good. But thanks to the home video boom in the 1980s, 'Howard'
would follow suit and find his way into video stores across America.
Nearly twenty years later, 'Howard' is slowly being pulled from video
shelves. But it is now that a film of such poor quality can be truly
Here's how it all goes down: You are dropped onto a planet from a far-away
universe, where ducks are human-like and are running the world, only to be
pulled out again moments later. An everyday working-duck by the name of
Howard gets sucked out of his living room on his recliner after returning
his apartment after a long, hard day.
After the opening title is shown in the thundering tradition of cinematic
heavyweights like '2001: A Space Odyssey', we see Howard's decent toward
planet Earth. Once he has reluctantly gotten his feet on the ground, he
clashes with the dregs of society and saves the lead singer of an
punk band named Beverly, (played by 'Back to the Future's Lea Thompson).
She tries to give him a hand, and help him get an explanation as to how he
got sucked out of his living room and landed in Cleveland,
That explanation never actually makes any sense, but that doesn't matter,
because better plot developments hinge upon it. With the help of a goofy
lab janitor Phil (played by the immortal Tim Robbins in an early comedic
role) and a big time nuclear scientist Dr. Jennings (none other than
Jones), Howard finds out that a giant laser Jennings was using went
and pulled Howard down instead. But going back isn't going to be so easy,
because one of Dark Overlords of Evil hitched a ride on that laser, and
plans of planet domination and destruction. And who better than to save
day than the 3'1" (3'2", that is) wise-"quacking" title character, Howard
Although George Lucas got ripped apart for having his hands in this one, I
have yet to see a movie that is so awful, so terribly bad that I have been
brought to tears crying at simply recalling scenes from this flick. The
opening sequences on the duck planet contain countless parodies of
pop culture, and Howard's implausible hurtle through space is enough to
even the most serious chuckle.
Audiences back in 1986 didn't seem to, however. But something about
watching this flop nearly two decades later makes all of these scenes so
much funnier. The way I see it, our teen generation now has a funny
fascination with the decade in which they were born, the 80s, and anything
from it has a distinctive look and sound. American pop culture was
away Three's Company for MTV, LPs for tapes, and the Bee Gees for the Brat
Pack. The youth took yet another step in distancing themselves from their
parents, and although they furthered that schism, they too felt a strong
connection the past few decades. What was happening when I was in utero?
Taking my first steps? Saying my first words?
Today's generation has 'Howard the Duck' as one of the most endangered
capsules of the 80s. You've got a one-of-a-kind performance by now
Award Winner Tim Robbins, whose his explanation of duck's evolutionary
is priceless. George Lucas's own Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) special
effects studio must be embarassed to have itself credited with the
horrendous effects (the Dark Overlord, for one). You've got a helplessly
catchy theme song, revelling in all of its cheesy 80s pop-synth
The jokes are terrible, the dialogue sub-par, the plot laughable. But you
know what, you'll laugh you a$$ off.
Join me in saving Howard from being pulled from video store shelves.
Today's generation will love the waddling fowl more than the angry
movie-goers who saw this dud in the theaters. Keep him alive!
Tags for Howard The Duck Full Movie
, Jeffrey Jones
, Lea Thompson
, Tim Robbins
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