Friday, April 12, 2013

Howard The Duck

Original Movie Poster

Welcome back trusty movie followers! I thought I would take a break from my girly childhood movies and talk about something a little different. See I may be a girl who played with Barbies, My Little Ponies and Care Bears but I also had many male cousins, an older brother and of course my dad so I was subjected to non-female oriented movies and animated shows as well. So besides watching Jem I was also watching Voltron and besides pretending to be a princess I had to be April O'Neill when my cousins or the neighborhood boys played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In fact I believe I was with my cousin Dustin at my aunt and uncle's house being baby-sat when I first saw...Howard The Duck.

Okay for those of you who have never heard of this movie before I discuss the plot you should know that Howard The Duck is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made so bad that George Lucas (yes Star Wars messiah himself) who produced it disowns this movie! Also when I saw this film I believe I was five because I remember watching it on Cinemax so it had been out of theaters for a while and well kids and talking ducks just go hand in hand (remember DuckTales anyone?)

Howard would be Scrooge's disinherited nephew

So...What Is The Plot?
Of course, Howard is a duck but not just any kind of duck...a duck from space! Well actually a planet in another dimension where instead of humans there are walking, talking ducks and they smoke, drink and watch TV... you get the point right? One night an earthquake seems to strike the planet and Howard is ripped out of his apartment by a beam of energy that ends up bringing him to Earth and dumping him in the middle of Cleveland, Ohio (and not the most pleasant part of it either). The first person Howard meets is Beverly Switzler, a young woman who is a member of a female rock band called Cherry Bomb, whom he saves from being attacked by some thugs. She doesn't seem at all freaked out by a talking duck and she helps Howard out by letting him stay at her place telling him she'll find a way to help him get home. Her "help" ends up being lab assistant Phil Blumburtt who isn't much help at all which makes Howard angry since it seems he's stuck on our planet for good.

Tim Robbins as Phil - would you really go to this guy for help?

He tells Beverly off and sets out on his own but Howard soon realizes that if he is going to be here on Earth he may just need at least one friend to turn to and finds Beverly and her band mates playing at some awful bar under the management of the sleazy and disgusting Ritchie. Howard decides to help the girls out which means beating the crap out of Ritchie and becoming the girls' new manager to the amazement of Beverly's friends, one of whom is dating Phil. So our nerdy professor comes back into the picture along with Dr. Walter Jenning who is actually more help because he knows exactly what brought Howard to Earth. Jenning and his colleagues have been working on a dimensional-jumping laser that malfunctioned hence Howard's arrival (Hello Cleveland indeed!) but he believes he send Howard back with one more use. Unfortunately, something else takes Howard's one-way ticket home and descends to Earth taking control of Dr. Jenning and leading, Howard, Beverly and Phil into a whole new world of trouble and wacky hijinks. Will Howard ever get back home or will the new world he calls home be at its end?

The people images were captured from a rumored screening

Believe it or not the plot of the movie doesn't sound that bad if you ask me so I'm not really sure why a lot of people hate this movie or think it's incredibly stupid. Howard The Duck originally was a comic book character that appeared in Marvel (yes those Marvel superheroes shared the limelight with a duck!) Comics and it was a little more mature and political than the movie. I can't really blame the script writers for the adaptation because they did write American Graffiti which is a classic film but trying to make a movie about a talking duck probably isn't easy so I can see where a snag most have come up somewhere...just not sure where exactly...

Jeffrey Jones as Dr. Walter Jenning

Could it be the acting? Well, Jeffrey Jones (famous as Ed Rooney, horrible principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off) as Dr. Jenning isn't too bad when he is serious but once he (oh hell spoiler!) becomes possessed by our intergalactic villain he does go a little over the top but that's what is great about being the villain- you always get the most ham and cheese on your role (see like a dinner roll?...never mind) to work with and have fun. A young, pre-dating Susan Sarandon Tim Robbins who plays Phil is adorable and hilarious which I enjoy and his career hasn't seemed to suffer for acting jobs since making this movie. The actors who portrayed Howard (yes actors...six of them) had to work in a huge costume that probably got very hot and difficult so you can't blame them and actor Chip Zien who does Howard's voice was cast after shooting to provide voice-over work so he was just reading what had already been written. The only other actor of note in the film is Lea Thompson who plays Beverly and well we all know that she can't be the reason Howard The Duck bombed! Most people today know her as Kathryn Kennish on ABC Family's Switched At Birth which is a good dramatic show or they know her as Marty McFly's mother Lorraine in the Back To The Future films and of course she was awesome in those!

Our main actor and his rockin' leading lady!

If you couldn't guess Lea Thompson is another actress I kinda have idol worship of and why wouldn't I? She's not just a pretty face she truly is talented and when I first saw Howard The Duck I was five in a generation when MTV ruled so playing a rocker almost reminiscent of my number one, true idols Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart was bound to win me over. Thompson has said having her hair styled and crimped like that everyday which took two hours was bad enough to make her wish she had worn a wig but to an impressionable child such as myself I thought she looked so cool! Besides that, Lea Thompson use to dance ballet (something I could and can never do), was acting at age 21 in movies before Howard The Duck and did I mention she can sing? Yes, the soundtrack to Howard The Duck that has songs credited to the fictional band Cherry Bomb...that's Lea on lead vocals? One word: Talented!

Now that I look back I have to take Lea's side on the hair...

Another thing that makes me enjoy Howard The Duck is of course, the music (again I am a late 80s MTV baby so I do enjoy music of this era). While scoring is done by legendary composer John Barry (check out the name on Google and see how many films pop up!) original songs credited to the fictional band "Cherry Bomb" were written and produced by Thomas Dolby. For those of you younger than me did you ever hear the song "She Blinded Me With Science" on like an 80s music channel or oriented radio station? If so, then that's Thomas Dolby and if you haven't, you really should it's quite a good song! As I stated, Lea Thompson's real vocals are on the songs as well as those of the actresses portraying her band mates in the film and the song "Don't Turn Away" is by far my favorite! Thomas Dolby performs his own rendition of the song on the soundtrack too and the harmonica you hear on it? That's Stevie Wonder. Another reason most of us should love (or maybe even hate) Thomas Dolby is he did music for another film that I may discuss in the future...which one? Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (so much childhood nostalgia is just overwhelming my brain with that one!)

Drew Struzan poster art...awesome!!

So is Howard The Duck really the goose egg of a film that people make it out to be? To me the answer is no but it is just my opinion after all. I enjoy the music, Lea Thompson does good with what she is given, Tim Robbins is hilarious, Jeffrey Jones makes a great villain in the fact that he creeped me out as a kid and makes me chuckle as an adult and at times, I find Howard adorable. Now if you have ever seen it, your opinion might be a little more harsh and if you have never had a chance to view Howard The Duck, I'd give it a shot. A little fair warning it is rated PG so it's not really a movie for little kids but how my cousin and I got away with watching it I'll never know...

NEXT TIME: Not really from my childhood but a good family film regardless. We take our first look into the beautiful world of Japanese animation with...Kiki's Delivery Service

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