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Howard the Duck (1986)

4.5
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 27,058 users  
Reviews: 248 user | 60 critic

A sarcastic humanoid duck is pulled from his homeworld to Earth where he must stop an alien invader.

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(Marvel comics character: Howard the Duck), , 1 more credit »
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Title: Howard the Duck (1986)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Howard T. Duck (voice)
Tim Rose ...
Steve Sleap ...
Peter Baird ...
Mary Wells ...
Lisa Sturz ...
...
...
Liz Sagal ...
Ronette, Cherry Bomb
...
Cal, Cherry Bomb
...
K.C., Cherry Bomb (as Holly Robinson)
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Storyline

A scientific experiment unknowingly brings extraterrestrial life forms to the Earth through a laser beam. First is the cigar smoking drake Howard from the duck's planet. A few kids try to keep him from the greedy scientists and help him back to his planet. But then a much less friendly being arrives through the beam... Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

laser | duck | singer | planet | alien | See more »

Taglines:

You will believe that a duck can talk. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 August 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Howard the Duck  »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$16,295,774 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Lucas' close friend John Landis was originally slated to direct this film, but after reading the script turned down the opportunity due to the police car crashes in the finale. He felt this was too similar to that of his previous film, The Blues Brothers (1980). See more »

Goofs

When Howard and Beverly try to exit the diner, the dark overlord prevents them leaving. When he closes the door and moves the plants, and then shoves the furniture in front of the door, you can see thin ropes stretched from the door and across the room. These guide the furniture towards the door. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Jenning: [In demon form] Eat claw, duck!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in South Park: The China Probrem (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Two More Bottles of Wine
Written by Delbert McClinton
Performed by Ladyfire, with vocals by Karen Blake
Produced by Christopher S. Brooks
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Marvel's Much-Maligned Mallard
7 July 2004 | by (Victoria, Canada) – See all my reviews

At a time when most of Marvel Comics' characters were stuck in low budget TV and straight-to-video productions, Steve Gerber's relatively obscure Howard the Duck got the big budget treatment with none other than George Lucas as producer. The film was written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who co-wrote "American Graffiti" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", and directed by Huyck, with special effects by ILM. What could go wrong?

A lot, apparently. "Howard" was a critical and financial failure that deep-sixed the careers of Huyck and Katz and led to the cancellation of the duck's magazine. If the film had a moderately priced budget, it might have been forgotten as just another lightweight, trashy 1980s comedy and even turned a profit. Instead, the budget somehow ballooned to a then staggering $37,000,000 (almost as much as the entire "Star Wars" trilogy cost to make). Although other films lost more money and got worse reviews, the name "Howard the Duck" is still synonymous with "expensive turkey".

That said, the movie itself isn't as bad as it's reputation suggests. The plot revolves around the title character (voice by Chip Zien, played by various midgets in animatronic duck suits), a sarcastic talking duck from a planet a lot like Earth, except ducks evolved into the dominant life form. Howard is brought to Cleveland, Ohio when an experimental laser beam opens an interdimensional portal. There he befriends an aspiring rock singer (Leah Thompson) and a kooky lab assistant (Tim Robbins), and comes into conflict with various lowlifes, the police, and an evil demon that has possessed the body of a helpful scientist (Jeffrey Jones), all the while trying to get back home.

Gerber's original comic book series and a subsequent adult-oriented magazine weren't kids' stuff. They juxtaposed a funny animal character with bizarre villains and action more typical of Marvel's super-hero books, usually parodying comics, politics, and popular culture in the process. A sexual relationship between Howard and his human girlfriend Beverly was more than just implied. The "Howard the Duck" movie could have either toned down the more adult situations to create a family-friendly action-comedy, or gone straight for ribald satire and gotten an "R" rating. Instead, the filmmakers sought an uncomfortable middle ground that pleases no one. The script is not witty enough for adults and it is too sleazy and scary for young children. The endless duck puns become tiresome. There are, however, a few truly funny moments, such as Howard's shock at being served eggs, or his observation that "If God intended ducks to fly, he wouldn't have taken away our wings."

The direction is uneven. The reaction of several characters to meeting a talking alien duck seems muted given the circumstances. The special effects are also hit and miss. The animatronic duck suit cost millions, but the actors inside it add little personality. They could have at least waddled when they walked. The demonic Dark Lords of the Universe at the end of the film are portrayed with stop motion animation that is jerky and unrealistic even for the time (perhaps this was intentional, though, to provide a B-movie feel). However, while a bad movie all around, "Howard the Duck" at least stands out for its unique premise. Amidst a sea of formulaic mediocrity, an original idea, even if it's poorly developed, counts for something.

** out ****


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