Today! Because if I had some place to go I certainly wouldn’t be in Cleve-land –
Howard the Duck (1986)
Directed by Willard Huyck
Starring Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins, Chip Zien, Holly Robinson, David Paymer (x2), Richard Kiley, Paul Guilfoyle, Dominique Davalos, Tommy Swerdlow, Miguel Sandoval
I am fully aware of how terrible a movie this is, thank you very much. And while I do have an unnatural affinity for bad films, not too many actually wound up on this list. The Room, the apex of modern awful cinema, lurked around the long list and kept angling to knock Rocky IV out of #400th, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The circumstances needed to enjoy that movie are so specific that I felt they removed it from competition – has to be with a crowd, should be at midnight, I have to be at least four cocktails to the worse. So no, Howard the Duck isn’t just some guilty pleasure, cheeky, oh look how cute he thinks it’s funny to include lousy movies thing. I genuinely enjoy this pile of merde de canard.
It helps that I’ve seen it countless dozens of times. I’m not sure if it was George Lucas getting that above-the-title producing credit, or omnipresent late ’80s wonder Jeffrey Jones as the wacky villain, but somehow this entered our childhood radar, with its bawdy duck nudity and all, and we latched on. And it’s still funny, sort of, in a really generic, pun-based comedic way. Crazy Webby! Playduck! All that bizarre sexual interplay with Lea Thompson! I saw this movie before Back to the Future by some number of years, so Lea trying to hook up with her own son seemed tame compared to the skimpily dressed bedroom antics of this film. But if you were to watch this now as an adult for the first time? I don’t know – it seems unlikely it would get a thumbs up.
Widely renowned for its horrid ineptitude, Howard won Worst Picture, Screenplay, New Star, and Visual Effects from the Razzies, in addition to nominations for Academy Award winner Robbins and Academy Award nominee Willard Huyck for Directing. It also was in the running for Worst Film of the Decade four years later, losing out to another staple of my childhood – Mommy Dearest. Why the hell did we watch Mommie Dearest so much?? But with all these Worsts, can we at least find the positive and give it Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Prequel, considering Howard’s later random appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy? Now get Lea Thompson some work over there, Disney!
Oscar nominee David Paymer joins the Two-Timers club, following his role in #399’s Payback. He snags club membership #52 – we’ve finally got enough to put together a promotional deck of cards! Anyone want to investigate that? Get the rights to a bunch of photographs of the actors? Design and distribute? I’ll give you some nominal title in the company if you do! Spotlight!