starring Philip Baker Hall, Bill Brochtrup, Amy Hill, Noel Gugliemi
written and directed by Nicole Bettauer
by Walter Chaw In Duck, hale character actor Philip Baker Hall finds himself delivering long, rambling, and likely improvised monologues to a duck that has imprinted itself on him in Los Angeles, 2009. Though it's probably more interesting to talk about why so many science-fiction films are set in Los Angeles, it's more fascinating to try to reconcile all the car-wreck non-sequiturs that comprise the mismatched, miasmic whole of this piece. Hall plays Arthur, freshly widowed and ready to pill himself into oblivion when a duckling fort/da gives him a new lease on life. Soon, though, the last pond in L.A. is drained, and simultaneously--allegorically!--Arthur is evicted, leading our "Boy and His Dog" futuristic odd couple on a whimsical "Travels with Charley" trudge through the social ills of a crazy, neo-conservative, caste-obsessed world to the rejuvenating bosom of the ocean. A scene where the body-of-water-starved fowl finds refuge in an open toilet doesn't carry the tragic weight I think it's meant to (taking a cue from the very sad score for the scene, it's intended to carry a really, really heavy tragic weight), giving Duck the distinction of being at once one of the worst, most insipid "message" films ever made and, on the bright side, one of the most unintentionally hilarious. Originally published: November 10, 2005.