Movie Review: Howard the Duck (1986)

Starring: Jeffrey Jones, Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins

Directed by: Willard Huyck

A humanoid duck called Howard is pulled from his home world through space to Earth. He befriends a rock singer called Beverley who tries to help him return home but before he leaves he must stop a dark overlord from destroying Earth.

I’ve always heard of Howard the Duck and have seen the movie pop up on Netflix from time to time but never got around to watching it. While I expected absolutely nothing from this movie, I was hoping for it to be an 80’s classic that shocked me. After quickly browsing over the cast before I pressed play I saw that it featured a young Tim Robbins who is usually pretty excellent so that got me a little bit more excited to finally watch Howard the Duck.

First and foremost the plot of Howard the Duck is ludicrously stupid but this was the mid 80’s and there were plenty of farfetched insane movies that were released around the same time which did really well so I was willing to look beyond the outlandish nature of the plot and hoped that the movie was at the very least entertaining and funny. Unfortunately as the movie progressed I soon realised that this was a complete bust as it was neither entertaining or the slightest bit amusing. There was a lot of failed attempts at comedy, mainly from central protagonist Howard the Duck, which just completely fell flat as I think I might’ve managed a slight smirk twice at some of the “jokes” but not much more than that throughout the entire movie. Not even a young Tim Robbins could produce a movie saving performance to make Howard the Duck watchable as he played an eccentric scientist who was trying to help Howard return to his home planet but in fact was more of a hinderance due to his clumsy and cowardice nature.

The only real standout performer in this movie which made it slightly bearable to watch was Jeffrey Jones as he plays Dr Walter Jenning who may be the reason why Howard was brought to earth in the first place. During the movie his body gets taken over by an evil dark overlord who is intent on destroying the world and as this happens he becomes more prominent within the movie. I thought his acting was great during his possession as he gets more dark and weird as his appearance becomes more and more altered. It’s a shame that he’s produced such a wonderful performance in such a horrible film as it feels almost like a wasted effort. Also, as much as the story was stupid and the acting was mostly poor, the worst part of the movie was definitely the script. It was so lazily written and was both predictable and unimaginative. The way Howard was written was the most confusing as at times he’s a bad ass, fighting duck who is not to be messed with but in the following scene he’s a scared and frightened coward who seemingly can’t defend himself. It was a little annoying as I watched Howard constantly flip flopping back and forth character types.

Overall, Howard the Duck was a huge waste of time for the most part as it had very little redeemable qualities. Jeffrey Jones’s performance was great but felt wasted in such a shoddy movie.


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