|In Short:||Don’t judge me.|
|HOWARD||It's not nice to fool with the Dark Overlords!|
I know I shouldn't like it. It's Howard the Duck, for God's sake! The story of an English-speaking fowl from across the galaxy that foils the invasion of Earth by the universe's Dark Overlords, helped by a pre-cool Tim Robbins and a scarily-permed Lea Thompson. Oh, yeah. There's some riveting drama.
But I can't help it. I just adore Howard.
He's cute! He's smart! He has biting wit, extraordinary eloquence, snappy dress-sense... and he's a duck! Cinema just doesn't get any better.
Our tale commences as the eponymous Howard, home after a hard day's work, settles down in front of the ol' TV for some quality channel surfing (thus proving that game shows, General Hospital and craaazy appliance salesmen are universal constants) when, BAM! He's suddenly traveling millions of light years across the galaxy through the vacuum of space (how he survives this is never satisfactorily explained), only to land in one of those generic dank and darkened alleyways with which America seems to abound.
And then the fun begins.
Through a series of co-incidence, happenstance, fate, destiny -- oh, let's be honest, plot devicing in its lowest form -- Howard meets up with rocker-babe Beverly (Lea Thompson) who, after a token protest ("You're not really a...a duck?"), accepts his existence with a gullible equanimity that would set a cult leader to salivating. Full of good intentions, Bev enlists the help of alleged scientist, Tim Robbins, to get her ducky home. Howard, however, pissed off with humanity in general, decides to strike out on his own. In one of the movie's less plausible scenes -- and, boy, is that saying Something -- Howard gets himself a job in a massage parlour.
Let's not dwell.
Moving on, it later transpires that Howie was brought down to Earth by the cosmic interference of some wild-haired science types. And when they attempt to reverse the process, and send our hero home, something else -- less cute and cuddly, we are given to understand -- arrives instead.
Much wackiness follows, but basically Howard, even while making with the jokes and the puns, manages to also make the world safe once again for democracy (in a scene that is the anti of climactic), by defeating an alien that you could swear was Gumby on steroids in a bad mood.
And he does this how? By using one of those ever-popular neutron disintegrators, of course!
But now poor, brave, martyred Howard can't get home. No, he is forced to stay on Earth... and become the manager of Lea's soft-rock girl band! Before a packed crowd of screaming fans (who are obviously stoned out of their minds) the worst movie theme song ever gets performed -- and I'm counting that drek from Titanic -- while Howie pulls a Jimi, upstaging the lovely Bev. How Lea Thompson was ever able to hold up her head again then becomes a mystery to us all.
Okay, so, objectively, Howard is pretty lame. This is not a movie you watch for the enriching cultural experience, the provocative, scintillating drama or the fascinating window on to our society that Science Fiction can sometimes provide. The only controversy Howard the Duck has ever provoked is whether or not it is suckier than Hudson Hawk (which I also love). But, I don't know. There's just something about it. It makes me laugh. It makes me cry. It makes me long for a little duck-shaped alien visitor of my own.
And, in the final scene, when Howard announces, "Not bad for a duck from outer space," I actually have to agree. For some unfathomable, probably terrifyingly pathological reason, I do just adore Howard.
Does that make me a bad person?
-- Rachel Hyland