Monday, April 3, 2017


Welcome to another installment of COMEDY CORNER, where we review the movies that make the world laugh, or those that just try to. This week's pick is an animated musical based on an Internet cartoon, QUEER DUCK: THE MOVIE.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. Did you ever play that game where you try to imagine if one of your favorite old movies would be made today, and if it was, what it would look like? It's not as much fun these days, I know, what with remakes being such a big part of the business right now, but there are still a few movies worthy of discussion. The Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles comes to mind.

Queer Duck: The Movie was released only eleven years ago, but watching it now, I have to wonder. Would this movie, which gleefully lampoons stereotypes on all sides of the sexuality spectrum and debate, though homosexuality is the focus, get made today?

For those of you unfamiliar with this particular specimen of animation and equal-opportunity-offender humor, Queer Duck follows the adventures of a duck named Seymour Duckstein, aka Queer Duck, who lives the metropolitan Gay lifestyle with his friends, proud children of the Rainbow and animals all. Following a bad experience at a theme park, Queer Duck begins to doubt his sexual identity, and begins a journey of self-discovery as this commited homosexual experiments with heterosexuality. If this concerns you, fear not: like all animated films made in America, this one also beats the gong of learning to love who you are. This teal-feathered, rainbow-shirted waterfowl will return home at the end.

The reason why I wonder if this movie would be made today is that you kind of have to come at it like you just got one of comedian Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias's racist gift baskets: it plays on stereotypes, but with good nature. This movie covers every gay stereotype you can think of and doesn't flinch from a single one. Hookups, Broadway, fruity drinks, the flamboyant behavior, it's all there. The movie gets plenty of jokes out of stereotypes about heterosexuals, too, portraying them as beer-swilling, sexually indiscriminate knuckle-draggers. And the thing that makes it great is, none of it is offered in a spirit of hostility. This movie is about loving who you are, and to do that, you sometimes need to be able to laugh at yourself.

Now, I should say "almost" none of the jokes are offered pejoratively. In the case of the film's villian, a televangelist horse named Reverend Van der Gelding (Jeff Bennett, who was also the voice of Johnny Bravo), the film mocks those who believe homosexuality can be "cured". With Van der Gelding, the film gives viewers the chance to laugh at the problem of homophobia by portraying the character, and the issue he represents, as a buffoonish, backward nincompoop that may be a momentary hinderance, but will finally be defeated.

It's that approach of comedy without hostility that I think makes this movie something of an anachronism today. These days, comedy separated from hostiliy seems to be, with a few exceptions, a dying art. Queer Duck doesn't want to reopen old wounds. It's not a movie about airing grievances. If anything, it's about getting past what other people may think of you. The message of this movie is that whoever you are, there will be wrong-headed attitudes about you. There will be people out there who accept these attitudes as truth. These people are wrong, and instead of getting worked up about it, the thing to do is laugh about the absurdity of these beliefs, because doing so robs those beliefs of their power. And I wonder: can people still do that today?

While the movie isn't as focused on the expressions of sexuality as it could have been -- I don't need to see the characters getting down to business to believe they're gay, and thankfully I didn't have to -- a couple of the jokes did go farther than I would have preferred. Needless to say, this one ain't for children. That said, Queer Duck isn't on the same level of raunch as, say, Ted or Sausage Party. Also, some of the jokes are topical, and since the movie is eleven years old, they're a bit dated. Topics include former President George W Bush, Blockbuster Video, and "Gay Day" at Disneyland. And if you understand why it's funny that former Vice President Dick Cheney appears in hunting camo and carrying a shotgun, you'll get to explain it to anyone watching the movie with you. This movie is silly, self-aware and very, very funny. But you may need to man up a little to make it to the end; these jokes have no loyalties.

Queer Duck is not rated, but features frank discussions of sexuality.

Robert's Score: 9 / 10

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