Double Take: Howard the Duck

This week I am revisiting 1986’s take on a Marvel comic character Howard the Duck. It is a movie from my own collection, I do remember the movie, not embarrassed to say that I’ve watched it, but for the life of me I can’t remember why I liked it enough to want to own it. Back then, I had no idea this movie was based on a comic book character. When I saw Howard the Duck in a cameo on Guardians of the Galaxy, I was a bit confused because he looked so different then the look that I remembered. Apparently the duck had a different look to him in the comics. Only reason I can think of is that he looks more familiar in the live action movie because he looks more cartoonish and familiar because he resembles what Donald Duck would look like. This movie had a cult following as it isn’t liked by many people. Didn’t make much at the box office but its cheesy enough to be just enough fun to watch it during a bad movie night with friends. So I am going down memory lane to see why I enjoyed the movie in the first place and see if I can rekindle how I felt about it back then.


Howard the Duck starts off with Howard returning home from wherever he was doing giving us a glimpse into the world has he knows it showing us every duck pun they can while the credits role. With no explanation at all he suddenly feels a gravitational pull and is whisked away from his planet, which looks like earth but shaped like an egg, into our world. Most movies you would think that any new being or species experiencing earth will end up in NYC or LA because, apparently, those are the two cities to represent the U.S. Nope, he ends up in Cleave Land a.k.a. Cleveland, Ohio. Where he meets Beverly Switzler, the lead singer to Cherry Bomb who looks like JEM from the 80’s cartoon. She helps him get acquainted with Earth and help him get home. In pursuit to find out why he is here, he uncovers something bigger than him and its up to him to help save the world from another alien invasion.


For a movie that is PG, this movie had a lot of sexual innuendos. Take Howard for instance, his love for the female body is obvious throughout the whole movie, his first scene is him laying back on his lazy boy looking at a playboy magazine. Calls women babe, honey, and tutz. He also worked in a sex club. The 80’s got away with a lot back then. Aside from that, the movie wasn’t bad. What they did get right is they lived in a universe where it is weird and unusual to see a life size duck walking around who can speak English. A running joke is how everyone reacts to the like of him. It is hard to take this movie seriously though for the average watcher. At least Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gave us something to watch. While looking at turtles the whole time, we enjoyed the personality they expressed while Howard is not really a likeable character. I don’t think he was really meant to be likable. He is a typical men I guess. Sarcastic, horny, male chauvinistic. The make up is pretty basic that wouldn’t fly (pun intended) now but was okay for the 80’s. The cast is pretty good. Jeffery Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption) and part of the Cherry Bombs was also Holly Robinson-Peete (Hanging with Mr. Cooper) all came on as a supporting cast. The acting is pretty over the top but I believe that was called for in this movie. The second half of the movie picks up a little with a lot of action with a hero fighting the villain to save the damsel in distress using tons of physical comedy, car chases and explosions.

I guess back then it was fun to see a bit of fantasy and fun on the screen. I mean, talking robots, turtles, aliens, and ducks were fun to watch when I was a kid. I think there was an intention to make sequels or explore different parts of the universe. Sadly, the movie didn’t pay off well. There is a scene worth watching which involves a brawl in a sushi restaurant where you get to see a lot of special effects and a nice fight scene between the alien and the locals. Other than that, not much is going on. If I had kids, this isn’t a movie I believe they would need to see as they grow up. However, if they decide to reboot the character now that everything Marvel is interesting, I wouldn’t mind seeing this character again on screen.

2 out of 5



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