Thursday, June 17, 2021

Howard the Duck vs. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

One weekend recently I watched two 80s movies. One was Howard the Duck from 1986 and the other was Who Framed Roger Rabbit from 1988. Howard the Duck was on DVD and Roger Rabbit was in 4K UHD on Disney+.

Howard the Duck bombed at the box office despite George Lucas's name being attached to it. It has occasional amusing moments but mostly it was dumb. And the 80s stop-motion especial effects weren't very good, either. I remember one reviewer saying (and I paraphrase from memory) "$35 million and the duck still looked like a kid in a costume." And he did. There are six people credited as "Howard T. Duck." I wonder if they were the people in the duck costume. And the music was intrusive to the movie instead of enhancing it.

And the humor just wasn't there. It was an expensive production, over the top even, and not very funny. According the the Internet Movie Database, it made almost $3 million worldwide. Which likely didn't cover the promotional budget.

Then there's Who Framed Roger Rabbit. According the the Internet Movie Database, it cost $70 million but it made nearly $350 million worldwide. I remember watching it in the theater in 1988 and being blown away by it. Here were cartoon characters from Disney and Warner Brothers and MGM on the same screen. The special effects never looked cheap. In fact, at times they were amazing. At the time I had no idea how cartoon characters could interact with human actors. And the animation is unbelievable. It's so good. Even the music is good, enhancing the film noir feeling of the movie

And it's hilarious. If you like cartoons (and even if you don't), the movie is funny. The climax is a little intense. But I never thought the movie was for children, anyway. 

So contrast Howard the Duck with Roger Rabbit. One was a hit, one wasn't. One was funny and amazing, one was treacle and stupid with bad special effects. One I highly recommend (especially if you appreciate the art of hand-drawn cartoons) the other I say avoid.

How do you like these films? Let me know in the comments below.

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