the 80s produced a lot of bad movies, flicks like Superman IV for example. But Howard the Duck really tops all of the bad movies of this decade.
The film is a truly remarkable achievement, each scene is actually worse than the scene that preceded it. so the film builds and builds its epic badness and really develops it into this fine and hilarious disasterpiece.
on the other hand, this is a movie about a duck from outerspace so you're not supposed to take it to seriously. unfortunately it tries for fun, and it mostly misses. Some of it works, like the opening in Duckland, or some of the funny lines that connect but for the most part the film almost doesn't seem to understand how to balance the absurdity and sincere storytelling. Where the film really goes off the rails (well its off the rails from the moment he gets sucked out of his apartment) is trying to explain anything. There are too many macguffins in this oven. The film has to laboriously explain every bit of plot and deus ex weapons, and it often forgets that someone like the girl is actually a person. She's about as useful as Fay Wray, doing almost nothing but just standing around uselessly despite all the crazy s*** happening around her.
The film is really missing a way that explains the stakes in a captivating way rather than the clumsy and awful way it manages. Consider the way that Back to the Future handles things differently. Doc explains the time machine with his story of falling off the toilet and having the vision of the flux capacitor. And then again his explanation of Marty connecting to the wire at the exact moment the tower is struck by lighting. Absurd, completely unacceptable ideas, but the presentation is winning and it is performed in a way that you really BELIEVE it works/can work.
Contrast that with Howard the Duck. We get no explanation and are thrust into a bunch of goofy but fun effects of him traveling to earth. Then we're plopped straight into a fight scene, but we've no real reason to be sympathetic to him yet because the character hasn't existed. We actually don't get a strong sense of Howard as a character until the sex scene, which is quickly undermined by the gag to resolve that scene. And then finally, nearly a third of the way into the film we get an explanation for how he came to earth, and it's stupid. it's presented in a really dumb manner, and it's impossible to believe the actors believe it because they don't bother to sell it. Basically you find out that Howard was zapped with a ray gun and sucked back here on accident. Then things backfire on them all when setting up to send Howard back, and "something else" comes through. That's literally what the film tells us, "I'm something else" one scene later it informs us it's the dark lord of the univorse and a demon from the whatever sector, banished there eons ago. Again a clunky and laughable explanation and you don't believe any of it other than that this dude is dfeifinitely evil. then in order to get rid of the evil guy, someone says, "hey what if we use that experimental ray gun, that should kill a demon." and that's how it works. Nothing in this film connects to anything else. it's all random and in many ways thoughtless in terms of how it's written. there's no caliber to the film that's worthwhile except it's absurdity level which is quite high. That's good, that the absurdist comedy moments often work, the problem is that pretty much nothing else does work, which just makes everything seem equally wretched, or if you like laughing at bad movies, this one will have you laughing so hard you'll laugh all the more at the attempts at more legit humor that was intended to be funny.
A bad movie, but entertaining if you like bad movies.
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