Ironically, Judge Brett Cullum has an ungainly leap.
He can't even fly straight!
Queer Duck: The Movie is an odd bird simply because it is based on shorts that appeared on the Internet as part of the Icebox web site. Queer Duck was first seen as a 2-3 minute clip created by Xeth Fineberg (an ex-writer for The Simpsons), who ironically isn't even gay. The web site and the character took off in a big way, and Queer Duck shorts ended up being shown by Showtime after Queer as Folk on Sunday nights. The fruity fowl ended up being a cult hero in GLBT circles. It's not surprising that funding for a full-fledged feature was provided by Paramount and not through the independent channels on which the show started. This duck is a big deal, and here's his very first movie. And don't forget the movie debut of Bi-Polar Bear, Openly Gator, and Oscar Wildcat.
It's a silly, silly idea, but Queer Duck: The Movie continues in the same slapstick, shlocky tradition the show on the web provided. The only thing added are new characters and more musical numbers. Oh my gay stars, here's a serpentine tale about how Queer Duck ends up marrying an older Broadway diva buzzard and takes on a homophobic minister, as well as a pro-family theme park. Celebrity cameos are provided through the voices of great sports like Conan O'Brien, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Bruce Villanch, Andy Dick, and David Duchovny as a vitriolic "Tiny Jesus" (don't ask).
There's an almost offensive sense of the absurd working here, but it is offset by sweet and sincere performances. Some gay men will be offended by the stereotypes that Queer Duck relentlessly showcases, while most will simply laugh in recognition of the satire on "clone queens" who have embraced gay culture to a wacky degree. This duck wears only a pride shirt, loves Broadway, parties nightly, and drinks like a fish even though he's a fowl. Out-and-proud Jim J. Bullock gives a hilarious performance as the lead bird, and he provides the right sense of authenticity to keep the whole thing from sliding into hopelessly tacky parody. His voice keeps this movie ticking. This may be the best performance of his career (it certainly eclipses his stints as Monroe on Too Close for Comfort and his self-promotion on The Hollywood Squares).
Somehow, several veteran voice actors ended up working on this project. Billy West is Bi-Polar Bear (he was the lead in Futurama as well as both characters in Ren and Stimpy). Oscar Wildcat is intoned by Maurice LaMarche, who gave us Inspector Gadget in addition to Lt. Kif on Futurama. Kevin Michael Richardson, who played Goro in Mortal Kombat as well as many other voices on kid shows, is Openly Gator. There's no shortage of talent in Queer Duck: The Movie.
Digital animation looks fine on this DVD with colors popping in all the right ways. The whole-hog surround mix works well, with plenty of oomph in the Broadway style numbers and the climax at the theme park. You get a quartet of featurettes which show behind-the-scenes in detail, including voice recording sessions for all the stars. Also included are five of the original shorts, which is a great bonus considering these quick clips work better than the movie (if only because they are the source material the film is based upon).
It's hard to stretch out a skit for eighty minutes, but Queer Duck: The Movie does so with mild success. It feels overly long, but plenty of plot and zingy jokes keep the whole story afloat. Jokes are cruelly obvious, and often scatological, but that's the point. The whole idea is to have a gay cartoon without any reverence for convention, and in that the cast and crew succeed. The animation and jokes are both crude as hell, but like water off a duck's back it hardly keeps you from having a good time. Straight audiences will be baffled, but the more gay you are the funnier this little movie is. Have a few cosmos, and watch it with the boys. It's good old fashioned faggoty fun, and sometimes silly is just as subversive as straight. So laugh and have a great time.
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Scales of Justice
• 5 Original Queer Duck Shorts
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