S2 Special Episode: Salina Watches "Howard the Duck" for the First Time
Updated: Apr 8
What will a 36-year old woman think about a 1986 science fiction comedy about a duck who comes to the Earth, unexpectedly becomes a hero (of sorts) and uncomfortably…flirts…with Lea Thompson?
Then, because now we gotta know, what happened in the lead up to this cult classic? Who gets the, er uh, credit – and how did it change movies forever? We discuss it all and more.
Dig in for yourself if you’d like with these reads:
So Bad It's Good: 'Howard the Duck,' the Marvel Movie We'd All Like to Forget
Come on, let’s get into it!
Or listen on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts.
During season two, it became clear that I wasn't the only one with gaps in my movie and TV.
Watching history about midseason, Salina revealed she'd never seen the eighties cult classic Howard the Duck.
A reference that came up in episode 11 which we dubbed Howard the dud off air.
I challenged Salina to watch the movie and report back and she accepted.
So here we are.
What will a 36 year old woman think about a 1986 science fiction comedy about a duck who comes to earth unexpectedly becomes a hero of sorts and uncomfortably flirts with Leah Thompson.
I'm sure it'll be fine.
Let's get into it.
Welcome to our Howard the duck discussion.
Our duction sort of probably works out that off air deduction.
So you ready to tell us what you thought?
Your laugh was the best part that um yeah, I, I'm, I'm ready to talk about it.
But I'm, I'm gonna go ahead and ask just, oh, like the tables are turning.
Yeah, I'm gonna answer your question with a question.
Do you think I loved it?
Do you think I hated it.
Do you think?
I, what do you think?
I think you hate that because I get the sense you're a Marvel superhero enjoyer.
You are someone who enjoys the modern Marvel universe and I don't think you're gonna appreciate that.
This was an early iteration of that.
So, now I've got something to comment about Marvel.
I'm not really that big of a fan.
Oh, I didn't know that about you.
Like, and I, I've always watched, like, I watched all, so maybe that's where I'm getting thrown.
You've watched all the movies you get into the outer skirt, but that's because I'm willing to give everything a shot.
But like when you get into the out skirts of the universe, like Howard, you mean the Centrifugal Force, um, when you get out into the outskirts, like ant man, like, I just got lost.
I'm like, do we really need that?
And I love Paul Rudd.
I was gonna say, I, I haven't seen them, love him, but I was just like, do we, are we just making money now?
Doesn't it matter?
Only if you're forced to watch the movie?
Um, for me, actually, when Avengers first came out, which is 10 years ago now, which is crazy.
Wow, you're old.
I know back when I was 12, I'm just kidding.
I don't care.
It's fine and I'm 36.
I love it.
Um, but like, I think I was just genuinely surprised that I liked it.
I think so.
In Iron Man, I really enjoyed and, and things like that, but I don't get like super jazzed every time.
And honestly I get them all confused at this point because I, I find it to be a very unwieldy universe.
It's a lot that feels ok to talk about though because we are talking about a Marvel character.
So it's not too far off base.
My answer to your question is this movie was not for me?
I'm not even sure I would have finished it if it weren't for this.
I just, I, I have to be very honest that said as, as you would say, as culture would say, how dare I yuck someone else's yum.
This is true.
This is true.
So let me just look at it for on the other side real quickly.
Will you go on this journey with me?
I'm, I'm here.
I have no time in my chair and I got my head on.
I'm literally plugged in.
So I can totally see how this works for some people.
I really can.
There are people who truly enjoy things that are quote unquote bad or revel, this is for you.
You'll love it or they revel in like an ironic watch.
Um Or if you're like a fan of a cult classic, if that's something, if cult classics do it for you, then it's going to check all of those boxes too.
I actually like went back and I was like, what, what really like, I know it when I see it.
But I was like, what's the definition of a cult classic?
So, uh it, it, these are movies that are often transgressive marginal disasters on first release are drawn from genres such as horror, science fiction and exploitation and which have attracted an exceptionally devoted and vociferous fan base.
And I think that this checks all of those boxes.
So if that is your yum, then this is the movie for you.
You're gonna eat it right up.
Also, I got me thinking a lot about you as Children sitting around and watching this movie.
I had A lot of fun.
I'm sure you brought your Children in too and were like, look at all these kids, look at what the 80s did to mommy.
So I can see how your sister and other young kids wound up being fans.
And here's why it's kind of wrapped in kid packaging especially if you came up in our time in our time long ago.
Uh Muppets, Ragle Rock or Disney and looney tunes that were apparently obsessed with ducks.
See Donald, see Daffy, see duck tails, see tailspin what's going on anyways, it doesn't matter.
I also think probably for kids sexual innuendo probably went right over their head right over their heads while the multitude of one liners just really slapped.
So can I call it a duck, duck session.
I think you definitely, thank you.
Um, the line no more, Mr Nice Duck pretty much captures the level of humor throughout the entire movie.
And then my last overarching thought here is that for me, one of the biggest problems that I saw is that this movie just didn't know who it was for.
It's not quite wholesome enough to be strictly for kids or families.
I absolutely would not let my Children watch this movie.
They're four and five, almost six.
I would not let them watch it.
I felt very uncomfortable at 36 I watched Game of Thrones 100 times.
Uh, it's not really dazzling enough to be for science fiction fans.
It's not funny enough to be for comedy fans.
I think it was trying to be everything and unfortunately, because it was trying to be too many things.
It, it wound up just missing the mark every single time.
And that's really unfortunate.
So I had a number of stray observations because, you know, I feel like though I, I can't decide if I want to apologize to you because I watched Pretty Woman on my turn and it was pretty good.
It's a cute little thing I liked it.
It was enjoyable.
I may have made an offhand comment to Casey that Nikki got to watch pretty 11 of the greatest rom com of all time.
And I got to watch Howard the Duck and the playing field feels a little uneven.
I think I can make it up to you with Captain Ron.
I really think I can, I really think I can.
That's an enjoyable movie.
I promise everything is enjoyable now.
What are your stray observations?
So, uh, I genuinely had no idea.
Tim Robbins was in it.
And I was so excited.
I was like, he's gonna save the movie.
Not even an Oscar winner.
Confusing a turn glitter unsuccessfully.
So another thing I had a thought along the way, movies set in Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, which is really flat, but then it's quite mountainous and beautiful in the scenes where Tim Robbins and Howard are flying together to save Beverly.
So naturally this bothered me.
So I had to look it up.
It was actually filmed in Petaluma, California.
I'm sure someone who lives there is like this idiot.
But anyways, however you pronounce that in California.
Um So I just wanted to share that.
I thought for sure you were gonna say.
And then like the Hollywood sign pops up and you see it in the hills.
Oh, no, just the mountain, right?
Like they seen that.
And then like, you know what?
Well, we'd put some odd things in this movie.
Let's uh throw it a backdrop.
But they were like, no, we just show these, that's the least offensive part of this movie.
Um, fair enough.
So, back home on his planet Howard was a construction worker by day and he wrote rock songs by night.
Where did they mention?
He's a construction worker?
I can't remember.
Ok, I'm not gonna go back and find it.
That's totally fine.
The reason I'm bringing that up is because I very much get the vibe in the first scenes that he is a, um, like a secret agent isn't the right word.
It's a private detective.
They're playing that, like, detective fifties music and he's got a briefcase and I, I don't know.
And I didn't care enough to look it up, but I was like, what is the deal here?
Like, is there something we're supposed to know about him?
Oh, well, I mean, everybody knows that any construction worker worth their salt carries a briefcase.
It's just the absolute, you know, that's just what they have to do, what they have to do it, their commitment to their career.
Well, that's a really good point.
Well, that's also a little bit of a mix up there too.
Uh, I guess it, I don't think they cared about the, but I don't think they did.
Uh, but anyway, so this whole, like, thing of construction worker by day and rock songs by night, put me in the mind of Jim.
But I only say to say that everything puts you in the mind.
Is This an 80's trope where we have a day job and then we're moonlighting as a rocker by night.
I don't know.
I just, that was one of my strays.
I don't think I've ever told you.
I'm moonlight as a rocker at night.
Have we never had that conversation?
I love that and I hope that you will play a song for us.
So we just thought I just queue that up for you.
Um, then I've got a series of questions that I need to run by.
They're more rhetorical.
But just let me be clear.
My sister loved this movie.
I'm like, I have questions for her too.
So the so you can jump in if you want, but I don't expect you to know the answer.
I think these are outstanding questions.
Was Cleveland really like Gotham in the eighties because it had like these Gotham vibes and then I have to know why Cleveland because it rocks and so does Beverly and Howard.
I don't understand.
I even looked into Steve Gruber, the creator to see if this was his hometown.
Nope, it's Saint Louis.
So my other thought there then is like, I, I'm not hating on it.
I get annoyed when everything's in L A and New York.
Guess what L A and New York, not everything happens in L A and New York despite what you may think.
And so like, it's kind of cool to pick up on a different place.
But like why I have zero knowledge of this except to say maybe that's why it's so unassuming.
Something fantastical is happening in this very unassuming place.
Isn't that where the rock hall of Fame is?
That's why they're the, that's why they rock, right?
Rock and rock and rock and hole.
The Rock and Hole Hall of Fame.
We're just gonna go on by that.
Why was everyone so scared of Howard?
Like, it's weird.
Like, if I saw a talking walking duck, I'd be like, that's weird.
And I didn't realize I took drugs this morning, but I don't know.
I'd be like, shrieking and running away.
People were scared of him until they weren't.
He's like cutesy, creepy.
Like those guys in the bar manager was so not scared, scared, ready to fight.
Like he's another man.
Like they are two full grown men.
It's a fair fight.
But like all the women and Children are.
That's a good question.
Except Beverly she loved.
All right, Howard can't swim.
Maybe they're trying to teach us not to prejudge.
That wasn't a question.
That's just a statement.
Maybe there's no water on his planet.
I don't know.
Swimming is an earth phenomenon.
We cannot be making assumptions about people, places nor things.
This one, What is this place where he worked?
I know that there are massage parlors.
Where you pay for additional services at the end.
I don't remember that part at all, but you do now, I do remember if my parents fast forwarded through this part.
So I mean, but this is like, what, what this business structure is a brothel.
So we know there's like the the happy ending places.
Then we know that there are straight up brothels.
Is this a sexy time spa?
Like I just didn't notice it because they have like, I think we have some of those in Atlanta literal full services like spa services.
But then also just people like unattractively making out in corners half naked.
There was a show on HBO.
The Real Sex bunny Ranch.
This feels like that to me.
No bunny ranch.
This feels like that to me.
Yeah, but that was a brothel.
Yeah, I think this was too.
But you could just also have a mud bath.
Very child friendly.
I really honestly do not remember that part at all and when it came up fast and I rewatched it in recent years.
Yeah, but you know y'all are watching it in your spare time too because like kids go popping a video tape without parents around unless it like I I maybe I'm blocking it out because it's so scarier because it was the weirdest edition to the movie so unnecessary.
Then my very last stray observation is how did this happen.
How did George Lucas who created one of the greatest franchises of all time with some of the most sophisticated special effects of all time.
Sign up on this, we had this conversation Kyle and I did because we love the movies, the, the new, the most recent live action Sonic, the Hedgehog movie.
And if you remember a few years ago, right before it came out, there was this huge kerfuffle because they had to redesign Sonic because they tested it with test audiences and they said he looked too cartoony.
And so they went back to the drawing board, they revamped him.
He looks great in the final movie.
We're Sonic fans in our family because we've played them.
Kyle played them growing up.
I watched my brother and sister play them.
So love Sonic.
My kids love the movies.
My son has a Sonic costume now.
So it turned out great and I was bringing up that because there's a new Sonic movie coming out next month in the context of Howard the Duck.
And I had the exact same question, which is, did they not pre screen this?
Did they not give anyone a run at this to say like, what's the deal with Howard?
He looks kind of childish but in a brothel and that's confusing.
That's just really knocking around the old Noggin a little bit.
So I think we're gonna try and piece some of this together.
Um I don't know that.
Obviously, this is again, like, just trying to look back through old articles and try and figure out what may have happened.
Um, but I, these are definitely all the things that I was wondering along the way and furiously jotting down as I was watching the movie.
Um, Casey watched it.
He'll watch anything and he tuned out after about five minutes.
He had never seen that.
And he still never has.
That surprises me.
He put in um some air pods and got right on his phone and he was like, I can't do it, Salina.
This is so bad.
Gosh, I feel terrible.
This might come up maybe in a little while.
I feel terrible.
I had fun digging into it.
But I mean, I didn't have any fun watching the movie.
It was, it was, we'll get there, we'll get there.
I read this article by a guy who went and rewatched Howard the Duck because they do because it is a cult classic.
They do screenings at like real movie theaters and people go watch it out of a sense of solidarity and like, what's the word when you want to go?
Like, relive your childhood?
Um But he remembered hating it as a kid.
He went to see it at like eight years old because it was kind of marketed as a kid movie, which maybe we'll talk about in a minute.
So his parents took him to see it.
He remembered hating it.
He hated every piece of it, but he loves it now.
But the point is even like you were saying, you know, who is it marketed toward?
Even the people that were supposed to enjoy it really didn't enjoy it.
I see what you're saying.
I don't know.
But then people, like, love it.
Some people love it, love it.
So that's the other reason that, like, I felt really weird because I don't like to step over and the way that people feel.
So I want to say that any time I'm saying like anything incredibly hateful about this movie, these are my feelings and you know what?
I never have to watch it again.
And if you love it, you just watch it, you just watch it and watch it.
Apparently I'm Gonna watch it again because I spent $14 on it.
Oh, no, I mean, I didn't.
Kyle did because I just pretend to not understand technology.
You, you, you ordered it on prime have maybe ok.
Oh, you know what if you watched it over the course of five days because I read it.
I was Going to rent it but I can't, I just can't commit.
And I, and I said the SNA off air that it took me about five days.
I had to watch it in like 15 minute increments because it wasn't for me either.
I had not completely given away whether or not I liked it before we started.
Nikki's not dumb.
So I think she figured it out unlike me who were, like, walking in pretty well.
And I'm like, I get dumb.
I have no idea.
Uh, so what favorite parts did you have some favorite parts?
So, this was super tough.
So hard to find a favorite part.
I think I'm gonna have to reframe this as things on a spectrum of more and less tolerable.
Hold on though.
Howard the Duck, the song it jams.
It's a, would you not put that as a favorite part?
I have it in there.
Uh I'm getting there, I'm getting there but I don't like the way you're framing this because that was a good part, no matter which way.
I said the music was all right.
It was certainly the pinnacle of what Howard The Duck had to offer the pinnacle, the Tippy top.
Yo, the top is so good.
I, I actually liked another one that she was singing like after he leaves and like, it's really sad or something and she goes, that's such a sad song.
Yeah, I actually, I was like, no, keep going.
I like this sad song.
Um, I thought that was good and I think she's a good voice.
So, because that is really Lea Thompson for those of you who don't know.
So here's the thing.
I found Howard to be the most tolerable actually.
I don't know why, but I guess I felt like at some points, maybe I was like relating to him a little bit.
He didn't understand where he was.
I didn't understand what I was watching.
He didn't understand why this was happening to him.
I didn't understand why this was happening to me.
So, you know, there was like some symbiosis there, but I also thought that like the sarcasm dry wit was good.
I think it was um actually the voice actor, Chip Zine, I think he did the absolute best that he could do with the material that was presented to him.
So I, I think I have to give compliments to him because it, it could have been worse if it had been delivered worse.
Um What if you had talked like a duck?
I think I would have liked that.
We should redo it just like that early on before it went overboard.
I thought the duck puns were kind of cute.
So we open up and there's like rolling egg instead of rolling stone and then there's a movie poster of splash dance instead of flash dance.
And then after three solid minutes of them, I went uh oh OK.
I said, oh no, someone is just really feeling themselves and we're about to feel it too.
Uh But I OK, here are two things I did legitimately like, I like seeing a bunch of people in 86 that I know from things today.
And so that's just always a good time to me.
I recognized several of these characters and like I was, oh, I know them from this or, oh, I know them from that.
So, like the Dark Overlord is the vice principal um from Ferris Bueller and like, and stuff like that or like seeing Tim Robbins.
This is one of his very first roles.
So that was kind of cool.
Um And then, uh we've been talking a lot about over the last two episodes, about time capsules and this very much felt like a time capsule.
So I liked how there was like sort of this grounding between things they're mentioning then that were like at the height of their popularity, but like are still rec very recognizable today.
But thinking about how different it must have felt then.
So for instance, they were watching David Letterman that night or something like that.
I'm watching his show on Netflix right now.
My next guest is or whatever and like really enjoying it.
But thinking like just these are two different David Lever Lettermans two different times.
Uh or seeing Leah Thompson's crimped hair in the wild, you know, just really getting those nostalgic vibes.
I read that she uh the reason they did her hair that way is because she really played it up in her audition.
They loved it so much, they committed to it and then she hated it afterwards because it took hours to do her hair.
And that's terrible.
Yeah, it is.
But it looks great.
It, I really loved it.
Yeah, cried hair is a lot of fun.
It makes no sense on a curly headed person.
So I can't really play around with that style, but it does come, it's like it ebbs and flows, it comes back into the whatever.
Uh So that was all the things that were my favorite parts.
So, aside from the movie itself, what didn't work for you?
So I have a list of the biggest offenders.
The awkward sexual innuendo and references.
So I'm gonna start with the worst, which was this weird romance between Beverly and Howard.
Yeah, the whole, in the whole beastiality overtones just weren't really working for me.
But then I have to tell you something.
I had to gut check myself because I love beauty and the beast.
So, but here's what I came up with in my gut check.
So what was the difference with beauty and the beast one?
It was actually good, good writing, good music, good story two.
It was a cartoon and not live action.
So the relationship seemed less egregious somehow.
The beast was also cursed and actually a human Then, uh, also the beast doesn't quite look like a specific animal.
It, it's just like he's just beastly, you know, and then I also first watched it when I was six.
So I might feel differently if I watched it at say 36 for the first time and wasn't watching it through like a nostalgia lens.
But instead just as like a 36 year old going.
Um, did you watch the live action Beauty and the beast?
But like, it's like ingrained and it feels ok.
Now it's kind of like that thing.
Like you don't know what, you don't know if you grew up with it.
I, I think uh yeah, I think you're on to something that he is a generic looking beast who also kind of looks like a man.
And, and again, it's like a curse.
It's like a fairy tale and this is just like a duck and a human about to do it in front of me.
Um So, and I want to be clear, I don't care about sexual references.
I mean, it's fine.
I don't care.
Like I said, I have watched game of Thrones 1000 times.
You know, I basically have the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy.
But the, but these were like cheap, not well placed and pretty weird because it did feel so much like it was somehow for Children that it just felt crazy and the duck at the beginning with the human breasts.
What was that?
Was that supposed to be funny?
Was that supposed to be a chip, a cheap thrill?
What like who is that for?
I think they're trying to maybe I think it was supposed to be funny really.
But I think the other thing is it's, it's an alternate universe.
It's not the ducks.
We know these are like the, like, what do humans look like on other planets?
These are the ducks with honkers in this universe.
The humans are ducks but they're also humans.
I, I honestly, I mean, that, that really creeped me out.
I think that was one of the, that's where I was like, oh, no, it's gonna be.
And then I was like, how long is this movie?
And it was like, hour 52 10, something like That.
I thought it was like, 4.5, 17, five days long.
I was like, oh, no.
Um, and then my very last thing that just did not work for me is just the, I'm sorry to say it just the writing.
I don't think I've ever heard so many bad one liners outside of something specifically written for Children where, like, that kind of comedy really works, you know?
And that's why I said at the top, like, I can see why a kid would like this because, uh, a childlike sense of humor is just different, you know, because, I mean, we know that as adults, right, going back and watching something like duck tails or anything like that, things that I know made me laugh and today I'm like, God, that is so dumb.
So that's it.
But how was your rewatch over those five days?
It's so Funny.
Um so I have rewatched this movie uh within, I would say probably within the last 10 years, Kyle and I watched it at some point.
There were straight up scenes like that brothel scene.
I do not remember even having watched it as an adult.
Um again, I say this was not my favorite movie as a child.
I just know my sister loved it but like I could not get over the fact that it was rated P G could not get over that.
I let my kids watch P G movies.
They're four and five.
I know by the letter of the law that's not, that doesn't align with the ages they recommend it for, but for the most part, like there'll be a bad word here and there, but we can live with it.
This movie should not have been rated Peter.
Like you said, they showed that Topless Duck at the beginning and I know it was a duck but that looked really real.
And I just, I don't know that, you know, even an eight year old, I think that's a little mature for them.
Um They were all that making out that whole brothel scene.
There was like the attempted a sexual assault against Beverly out in the, like you said in the, in the sketchy area just brought me to how different things were in the eighties.
My mom says like when I was four, I loved Golden girls because I loved badge.
The fact that I was four and watching Golden Girls, how different, how different.
Um I'll never forget how he says Cleveland like my whole life.
That's how we've said Cleveland because of Howard the duck.
Um So hearing him say that like Cleveland, it took me back the scene where Dr Jenning gets power by sticking his tongue to the cigarette lighter that lives rent free in my mind.
And as soon as I see it, I'm scared all over again.
Yeah, I was, I think I would have been really scared by all of those parts of his face.
Like, totally changes.
It's, it's really bad.
Um, also Jeffrey Jones, the actor that plays Dr Jennings, he's also the stuff villa this nightmares are made out of because of like, um, uh, you just mentioned Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but he was also in the movie.
I don't know.
It's really, it's kind of, it's kind of a scary movie from the nineties.
I think some parents, some, I think it's parents get sucked into the TV.
There were two of them stay tuned and stay tuned too.
No, no, a different movie.
But they were both kind of similar concepts anyway.
He played a terrifying person also just Google him.
He's had kind of a terrifying history.
Oh, that's interesting.
He's on the, um, child sex offender list to this day.
So I remember him from Devil's advocate.
I don't know that one.
Eddie Barzoon, I've seen that movie so many times.
Do you know what movie I'm talking about?
It's Keanu Reeves.
He and Charlie's there and He's like a young hotshot lawyer in Florida.
And this, um, al Pacino comes and he want, I don't wanna, I don't know, spoil, he's from 97 and I remember Jeffrey Jones in that great movie.
He's like one of the lawyers in the New York law firm where he comes and takes him to be there and he's in it towards the very beginning, like shredding documents.
He's a bad guy.
He gets killed early on, but it's really scary.
Um, that monster at the end which is just like, really, it's eight C G I, which is not great.
It's also terrifying, really horrifying.
And I'm just, I'm gonna call it Howard the Duck.
It's a jam.
It's a jam.
I listen to it in my car.
You know what's funny though is like, I kind of like the way that I was expecting it to sound a little differently because you have been singing it a few times and like, all you ever do is go How is that duck?
And it sounds a little bit different and I was like, no, and I, I like your version better is what I'm saying.
I think that's what I was waiting for.
I was like, I was like, ready for it and then it was just slightly different and I was like, hm, I like my head first.
Sounds the same.
It's why I sound just like Celine Dion in my head.
I get it.
Um, but I'm telling you, I like your version better.
Well, that's the, that's the thing that sticks with me the most of my entire Howard the duck career.
So that's it.
Well, there we go.
So, like promised from the beginning we, we dig into Howard the duck Salina.
They don't need to know, huh?
And this is actually where I started to, um, uh, feel better about my watch because I enjoyed looking back and, and seeing the impact that this movie had, I enjoyed looking back and, um, just seeing how things played out, why they played out the way they did, theorizing why we saw what we saw what may have gone wrong.
It, it really almost made me dislike the movie less.
Oh, that's good.
Yeah, almost not quite.
But like this part I really enjoyed, I enjoyed all of this and I want to say that first on paper, it had the makings of a great movie.
George Lucas was the executive producer and back then, like I said earlier, he had just wrapped the Star Wars Trilogy.
It was kind of a popular set of movies.
No, it was directed and co-written by the same people who had just come off the second Indiana Jones movie, Temple of Doom, which is still a very top grossing movie to this day.
Um, we had a strong lead in Leah Thompson who had just started back to the future.
They even brought in a real musician to teach the fictitious band from the movie called Cherry Bomb.
How to use the instruments and give Thompson voice coaching and talking about, uh, the dark Lord and that monster that he becomes or really his true form or whatever one of the guys who was involved in making that just to talk about how strong that creates team was.
He goes on to help make the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.
So, I mean, a movie that I still watch today and I'm like, how is this remotely holding up?
But it does.
And so like, obviously you had someone there who had some real talent.
So all that's true and yet Nikki, it was not great.
How not great do we mean?
So it was a box office bomb.
The budget was $37 million.
That's mind boggling to me.
That's five million more than return of the Jedi.
Um and the box office return was 38 million globally and only 16.2 million domestically.
Um George Lucas reportedly spent $2 million $5.1 million.
That's a lot of money.
That's a lot of money Yeah, that's like a spec that it's not, it is a specific percentage, but that's like a significant percentage of that 37 million.
Yes, as well.
Maybe it should be because that's the main character.
But if you're going to spend that kind of money, maybe make it look a little better.
The movie was nominated for seven razzies in 1986.
So the razzies are awards given to the worst movies over a 12-month period.
It received four oh the worst new star, which was for quote, the six guys and gals in the duck suit.
And I don't know if you have this in your notes anywhere else, but apparently it was really hard to staff that duck suit role.
Um It also got an award for worst visual effects, worst screenplay and it tied for worst picture.
Um it tied with Princes Under the Cherry Moon for worst picture.
It also changed the entire course of some people's careers.
Uh The director never, never directed another movie.
It's not funny.
Uh I like that.
You also, you laughed and told yourself uh shortly after the movie was released, the head of universal pictures.
Frank Prince quit his job.
There's even a rumor that he and another studio head Sydney Sheinberg got in a fistfight over who was to blame for green lighting the movie.
I don't know if it's true or not, but to be a fly on the wall.
Are you gonna mention this later.
Um, I read something that Leah Thompson rushed to accept another role after this one because she thought she'd never work again.
Oh, I read about her being very upset that it was so poorly received because I think she thought it was going to do.
Well, I mean, again, when you look at the, what's on paper, you think you've got a good set up here and I think it was a really big blow for her because she had just come off of um back to the future.
So I think she was like, how did this happen?
But what did you read?
Well, I just read that.
She, she rushed to accept the next movie which um Oh oh yeah.
Got 16 candles.
Uh per perfect to pretty perfect.
She's the girl that he's in love with is a drummer.
So some kind of, some kind of wonderful.
She rushed to accept that role because this one did so badly.
She was really afraid she'd never work again.
So what I read it said like that was kind of a recovery piece for her and um maybe that but like maybe her rushing to take it uh turned out to be a good thing.
Yeah, fortunate because that's a cute movie.
But all of that was the fallout to your point.
How did they go from this, like perfect setup to this total bomb?
So I I read and put together several different things.
So this isn't all from one source and we will link to all of these different articles because of course, we want to give all these folks credit.
But from my reading of things, it sounds like Howard the Duck was a series of compromises and we know what happens when you over compromise the crap out of something.
So number one, they compromised the format to please the studio.
So it was initially supposed to be an animation because they didn't really think that the technology was advanced enough for live action.
However, they couldn't make it quickly enough to meet the studio's expectations for Howard the Duck to be a summer blockbuster.
So they went ahead and went with live action, whatever technology that uh Lucas uses in Star Wars, it's like light something I can't remember anyways that uh he was like, it's cool.
We'll just use this.
It'll be fine.
Was it fine?
Uh Number two, Lucas didn't actually get the director that he thought that could make it work.
Oh, so he wanted John Landis for those who don't know.
And I, I the name was familiar, but I certainly wouldn't have just known.
Uh his filmography includes things like animal house blues brothers, trading places, these quirky movies that really work.
So I, I see why he feels that way.
Like why Lucas felt like he was the right person to step into the role because I do think this is like it is very quirky and you need someone who knows how to work with quirk.
I hear myself.
So that's interesting.
This thinking about Marvel Universe and which we'll get into in a minute.
This makes me think of Deadpool, which feels very quirky and this could have been that can do.
Um So John Landis turns down his offer and I wanted to share a quote from Lucas as well.
So Lucas reportedly said my greatest regret in my career, his career, his career, holy crap is that John was unable to direct Howard the Duck.
I feel the movie would have been far more successful and saved me the years of hardship following its release.
Like maybe we should have put a trigger warning on here because I would hate for George to hear this and just right, Georgie relive the trauma because I don't know if you guys know this or not, but he is a huge sweet tea and TV fan.
We think so.
And then the third thing that I think was not where they wanted things to be with the movie is that another actor, Chip Zen actually had to take over for Howard the Duck.
So this doesn't come out till years later, but Robin Williams was originally cast as Howard and he leaves the project out of frustration and the role eventually goes to Chipsy, apparently, Williams's improv style did not play well with the intricacies of the black suit.
So it actually, I think now this is all going off pure memory.
So I'm sure this isn't exactly right.
But it takes like several people to operate the mouth.
I'm thinking like animatronics or whatever, like a Disney world.
Um like when you go down Pirates of the Caribbean and all of that.
So I'm imagining it's something like that.
So I'm seeing like eight people in the background and, and Robin Williams is very known for his or was rest in peace, um, very known for like his over the top improv style where he's really just able to come up with things off the cuff.
And so, uh there's no way that they would be able to keep up with that.
But I do, I do wonder if all of these things had switched around.
Would the movie still have sucked or would we have had a hit on our hands?
I don't know, but you put all those things together and you can see why we have some problems here.
Also given the source material, I don't know if we can call it a grittier comic book, but it was a surrealist comic book and I don't remember the exact name but of the series, but it's like the return to Fear or Welcome to Fear or something like that series.
Like it definitely doesn't sound childlike, you know.
Um, it sounds like based on that, that they compromise the main character himself in the world within which he lived attempting to give it a broader appeal and particularly kid appeal.
So I think that might have again, this is all my own speculation.
Uh But it's interesting that you bring up Deadpool because I think that may have been what would have saved it.
So I don't know if indeed this decision was made like somewhere somehow to make it appeal to Children, which we both feel like is there when you watch the movie?
Like it, it didn't work and it's all wrong and gross, but like that's rated peachy.
Oh, I wish I could think of something for P G on the fly.
Um But no matter what, what well executed.
So it seems to me maybe they should have given it the dead P treatment.
Just go for the R rating.
But it's easy for us to sit here and say that now when there was no dead pool, there was, there was nothing like that in the universe.
So yeah, you're, but let's just go with it for a second.
You're not gonna make that Avenger money.
But you're gonna make money right today.
If you look at who sits in the top three grossing rated art film slots, it's all comic book characters.
Yes, that's an artifice of where we are in the movie landscape today.
But that is also just simply the case.
It belongs to number one.
Number two, Deadpool two and number three, Deadpool, the original.
So um much like we do from time to time with designing women.
It is so easy for us to look back all this time later with a, a clear cut solution, you know.
Um But uh it's not all that easy in the moment.
Totally get that.
And I say, let's go out on a high note.
Nikki, look at you spin into the positive.
But it, it's the first full length big screen adaptation of a Marvel comic book.
There, there was a Captain America serial in the 40s or whatever, but this is the first time they've really done a full movie.
So there's that you can't take them away, you can't.
Um Without Howard the Duck, there would not be Pixar.
At least not the way we know it today.
Lucas was counting on the movie's profits to get him out of the debt.
Some say it was from return of the Jedi.
Others say it was to pay off the debts from his divorce and Skywalker ranch.
Um In fact, we talked about this in our Howard the Dudd episode of designing women.
Uh what we didn't talk about was when it tanked, he was forced to sell off some assets.
Among them was a computer animation studio that Steve jobs bought for $10 million dollars leads us to Pixar.
Um So there seemed to be a fair amount of Marvel fans who are intrigued by the idea of another Howard movie.
I guess they just want to run at that wall again.
This idea gained steam when he appeared after the credits rolled in Guardians of the Galaxy and he looks totally different.
Um, Leah Thompson is even reportedly interested in directing a remake in directing a remake.
Oh, can they make that work?
This was like three years ago.
So, uh pandemic probably changed everything s great.
Can't do that again.
I don't know.
I guess we'll see, I guess we'll see.
Now we're going out, now we're going out on a high note for real.
Um So just want to know, are y'all enjoying these movie reviews?
Is there something that you really want us to sit down, watch, tear apart?
Next Captain Ron, Captain Ron Whoo whoo.
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