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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>
According to reports at the time of the movie's release, George Lucas had just built the $50-million Skywalker Ranch complex, and was counting on this film to get him back in the black. When it bombed, he was forced to start selling off assets to stay afloat. His friend Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer, offered to help by buying Lucasfilm's newly-launched CGI animation division for a price well above market value. Lucas, in desperate straits and thankful for the assistance, agreed. That division eventually become Pixar Animation Studios. See more »
In the diner scene, a truck driver grabs the key card from Howard and asks "What's this, the key to your duck mobile?" Howard never mentions that it is a key and it being a high-tech gadget, does not resemble a key in any way (especially not to a Mid-'80s truck driver). See more »
In the UK two cuts totalling 46 secs were made to secure a PG rating. One is of Lea Thompson pulling a condom out of Howard's wallet, the other is of the bad guy sticking his tongue in a car cigarette lighter socket to recharge himself. The scene with the condom was left intact on the film's television premiere on the BBC. Although the cuts were fully restored in 2008 for the 12-rated Metrodome release the same company reissued the film later in the year with a PG certificate, and this release lost 52 secs of cuts to photo shots in a sex magazine and a scene where Howard works in a sleazy sauna parlour. See more »
A painfully funny 80s time capsule that should be embraced!
Considered one of the most notorious box-office flops in history (next to the 'Road to Morocco'-ripoff 'Ishtar' with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty the following year), 'Howard the Duck' became the laughing stock of critics 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 store shelves. But it is now that a film of such poor quality can be truly appreciated.
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 to 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 the 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 all-female 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, Ohio.
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 Jeffery Jones), Howard finds out that a giant laser Jennings was using went haywire, 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 has plans of planet domination and destruction. And who better than to save the day than the 3'1" (3'2", that is) wise-"quacking" title character, Howard T. Duck!
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 American pop culture, and Howard's implausible hurtle through space is enough to make 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 throwing 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 time capsules of the 80s. You've got a one-of-a-kind performance by now Acadmey Award Winner Tim Robbins, whose his explanation of duck's evolutionary scale 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 glory.
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!
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