Then & Now: Howard The Duck

Geoff Harris


I wanted to see this movie so badly, I’m surprised I wasn’t also menstruating like the wild-eyed teenage girl I was emulating. This was wanting to see Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber on a double bill level of fanatic intensity. I cut out every ad I found. I scoured the television for trailers. And the worst hit when I first heard the Howard song on the radio. I remember it well. I was sitting, doing homework, and I had the house stereo on for ambient noise. The deejay introduced the newest song from Thomas Dolby. Anyone growing up in the Eighties knew he was the “Blinded Me With Science” guy.  I lost my ever-loving mind. To this day I still believe this was the moment when my brother, innocently getting something from the kitchen, decided he didn’t want to be related to me anymore. I jumped up from my chair and began to gesticulate in wide random directions while shouting,”THIS! IT’S FOR THE MOVIE! OH MY GOD!!!!” My brother stopped and stared for maybe a half -minute and hasn’t said more than ten words to me since. (I’m exaggerating a bit, but he does get a bit squarely when the geek talk starts.)

I felt like Icarus, soaring above the crowd. And like him, I flew too high. I couldn’t get to the theater fast enough. It was a bit of a walk from our house, but I didn’t mind. This was going to be awesome. I had only a working knowledge of the character. His wasn’t one of the books I was reading at that time. Hindsight be damned. The lights went down and my descent into darkness began. I walked out of there feeling like someone had just killed my dog and forced me to eat the corpse. It was beyond disappointing. A few years later I would learn more about plot and story in Creative Writing class. Salt in the wound. It had a few bright moments though. Lea Thompson in her half shirt and panties as she turns the tables on a would-be seducer Howard stands out. (I was sixteen. The Sears catalog was porn. Sue me.)


Somethings get better with age. Others decay and turn into sewage. This movie falls somewhere in between. It does not hold up well. The hair styles alone are dated and I hear Cleveland really isn’t that bad of a place to live. Reading the comic has only widened the gap. There was so much potential that was just wasted. THIS MOVIE DESERVES A REBOOT!!!! He’s made two cameos now in the Guardians movies. If the public can get behind Rocket Raccoon, I think they can support a Howard redux.

Howard The Duck has become one of those films I’ll watch but only at conventions or if I’m just too bored to put in a DVD from my rather humble collection. It’s like that friend everyone has who’s annoying to be around but you forgive them because you know they’re either mentally challenged or have had a rough childhood. They’ve always been there when you’re down but sometimes ask for more than you are willing or able to give. Okay, I just described the second act arc between Howard and Beverly. Honestly, the way the story is laid out it would fit perfectly between The Vampire Diaries and The Originals for overblown Twilight-esque melodrama.

However, I would like to address a concern. Am I the only one who noticed how adult this supposed teen friendly flick is? Early in we see Howard returning home to his apartment on Duckworld, getting his latest issue of Playduck, and ogling the centerfold. A coy lady duck complete with nipples. Admittedly my favorite scene must have been filmed in a drafty garage because Ms. Thompson certainty seemed enthusiastic. I will concede that maybe I’m just filling in what my mind wants to be there. Like pacing and notable characterization.  I still listen when the song comes on. Sometimes I sing along and die just a little inside.


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