Release Date: May 11th, 2007 (AMC/Loews Village VII) by Right Brained Releasing.
The Cast: Philip Baker Hall, Duck, Bill Cobbs, French Stewart, Bill Brochtrup, Amy Hill, Larry Cedar, Noel Gugliemi, Starletta DuPois.
Directed by Nic Bettauer.
BASIC PREMISE: In 2009, Arthur (Hall) gets evicted and wanders throughout Los Angeles with his pet duck trying to find a place to live and a purpose to live.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Just when you thought you’ve seen all of the possible human-bonding-with-animal movies, along comes the charming fable, Duck. In the first act, Arthur, a retired history professor, loses everything including his wife, his son and his money. He finds a baby duck that confuses him for his mother and immediately adopts it, rather than the alternative, committing suicide. No, the duck doesn’t talk to him, but he does talks to it as if it were his best friend—he even names it Joe. Soon enough, Arthur gets evicted and can’t get social security, so he and Joe set out on an adventure together through Los Angeles. Their common goal of trying to survive sets them up for many challenges, especially when Arthur thinks he found place to live in park that’s about to be closed. What make this such a delightful fable are the performances by Philip Baker Hall and, of course, the charming duck. Bill Cobbs also adds some charm as a blind homeless man who befriends Arthur. Surprisingly, Arthur has some chemistry with Joe and even allows him to sleep with him— don’t worry, it’s “sleep” as/in you “sleep” with your pajamas. Nic Bettauer certainly has some courage and imagination to write and direct such a strange fable. Fortunately, she never lets it become creepy or over-the-top. The premise alone sounds like it could make for a hilarious Christopher Guest “documentary”, but it actually turns out to be a smart, sweet, funny and genuinely charming fable. Please stayed tuned after the end credits for a brief, additional scene.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Every organism has a purpose in this world, from amoebas to ducks to humans. For some people, it takes losing everything they possess in order to change the way they look at the world and themselves as well as how you fit within the larger scheme of things. It may not be easy to search for meaning, but it’s better than being a nihilist. As corny as it sounds, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel; the trick is to be patient, perceptive and self-aware enough in order to find it. It always helps if you have someone or something meaningful to hold onto when all else fails—it could be a soul-mate, a good friend, a passionate hobby, God, or, in the exaggerated sense, a duck. It’s your job to realize what makes your life truly meaningful in its own idiosyncratic way.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief and open your mind.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A crowd-pleasing gem. Funny, charming and delightful.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "D" Menu