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Howard The Duck
cast: : Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, and Ed Gale

director: Willard Huyck

110 minutes (PG) 1986
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 1/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
Some films improve with age, becoming snapshots or artefacts of the era that spawned them, representing a zeitgeist; others attain cult following which negates their flaws and adds a veneer of stylishness they never originally possessed. Unfortunately, Howard The Duck does none of this - it is simply a bad film that now seems even worse.

The whole project was misguided from the start, and the end product always looked cheap, rushed and awkward, as if nobody involved knew what the hell they were doing and all the money they tipped into it went on keeping George Lucas' bouffant fluffed up. The special effects are appalling, even for their time (compare them with those of Ghostbusters, two years earlier, to see what I mean). The duck suit worn by the series of short actors who played the part is simply absurd.

We are treated to horrible dialogue, a painfully unfunny script that plays like it was written on the back of a Marlboro packet after a drunken night out, and actors like Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones giving career-worst performances (Robins is particularly awful; watching him chew the scenery like a poor-man's Dan Aykroyd is nothing short of embarrassing). In fact, of the leads only Lea Thompson retains any kind of dignity at all - if she can look attractive in this, then she can cope with anything - but even her budding career was stunted by the film's reputation as the biggest bomb Hollywood had produced to date (ousting Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate from the top spot).

The threadbare plot is so simplistic that I refuse to even outline it here, and the entire shoddy enterprise abandons any semblance to logical thought in the first few minutes when Howard is wrenched from Duck World through a black hole. Or something. The whole thing hangs tentatively on the fact that the audience is supposed to find a talking duck so funny that we'll laugh throughout the film and miss how rubbish it is.

I half expected to rediscover a cult film when I slipped this one into the DVD player, but all I got was a headache from the lurid costumes, the shouting, and the ridiculous theme song that plays over the end credits. Avoid this insulting nonsense at all costs; go and rent Ghostbusters instead.

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