Philip Baker Hall’s career has come full circle: Not since Altman’s Secret Honor has the actor been allowed to talk so much. The strangest movie to reach theaters in many moons (at least the strangest since Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters), Duck is a daisy chain of serio-comic incidents in the life of a septuagenarian who befriends a duckling shortly after the man spreads his wife’s ashes on a site that was apparently close to his deceased son’s heart. Suggesting a Comedy Central fan’s idea of a prestige picture, it’s almost tempting to consider the film a rebuke to Crash‘s presumptions about race and class, except writer-director Nic Bettauer claims to have come up with the story way back when she was at USC. Regardless, this shit is bananas, as in Arthur (Baker Hall) giving his duckling, which he names Joe, a sitz bath to clear the little critter’s sinuses after it starts sneezing and catapulting into the air. Their connection will persist even after the duckling has grown into a delicious goose and Arthur is living, after an absurd eviction, on the landfill where he and Joe first met. On their Odyssean travels, the pair will encounter an assortment of archetypes (among them a Chinese food-delivery man, a suicide jumper, and a pedicurist) in a series of bizarre scenarios that subsist simultaneously to test the audience’s discomfiture and to emphasize Arthur’s optimism and capacity for kindness. A scene in which Arthur tells a garbage man a joke involving ducks, grapes, and nails is, like, stoner-heavy, and Arthur and Joe’s connection to a blind man and his dog is touching, but what are we to make of the repeated shots from Joe’s point of view (Duck-O-Vision!) or the film’s 2009 setting, which seems to exist for no reason other than to justify a joke about Jeb Bush being president? Duck is an inexplicable study of hangdogitis, at once unwatchable and endearingly embarrassed.
- Right Brained Releasing
- 98 min
- Nic Bettauer
- Nic Bettauer
- Philip Baker Hall, Duck, Bill Cobbs, French Stewart, Bill Brochtrup, Amy Hill, Larry Cedar, Noel Gugliemi, Starletta DuPois
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