- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Right Brained Releasing
For about its first half-hour, “Duck” comes across as a curiously quirky two-hander about a despondent widower (Philip Baker Hall) who embarks on a meaningful relationship with a lost baby duck who waddles into his life at a particularly vulnerable moment.
Alas, the film ain’t all it’s quacked up to be.
Perhaps concerned about selling a feature in which one character essentially does all the talking, writer-director Nic Bettauer sends the man and his duck on a journey through the colder streets of a Los Angeles circa 2009, at a time when they’re draining the last city park pond to make way for a housing development.
It’s also become a place where every homeless person seems to be a deep-thinking philosopher and where one can find true sanctuary in the corner Vietnamese nail salon.
Bettauer has a lot of serious things to put across about survival in the big, unfeeling metropolis, and while her modern-day fable obviously has Capra-esque intentions, the maudlin results cry out for a better focused, more sharply executed plan of attack.
Respected veteran Hall adds a real poignancy to his role of a retired history professor who meets up with his fine-feathered friend during his greatest hour of need.
But the film loses its webbed footing the moment they hit the road and meet up with a distracting parade of familiar TV faces (among them French Stewart, Bill Brochtrup and Amy Hill as the pedicurist with a heart of gold), who seem to have as much trouble as the director does in finding a suitable tone.
Maybe they all should have taken their cues from Joe the Duck and his stunt doubles, who pull off their respective performances swimmingly.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day