THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK (1971)
A duck who can lay golden eggs! Finally, a live action Disney movie that actually sounds like it would be in The Mouse’s wheelhouse. The first of Vincent McEveety’s several directorial efforts for Disney, The Million Dollar Duck takes a dumb premise and runs like hell with it. And can we really ask for more than that?
Life sucks for Professor Albert Dooley (Dean Jones). He can’t pay his bills. He can’t afford a puppy for his son Jimmy (Lee Montgomery). His wife Katie (Sandy Duncan) couldn’t cook to save her life. And on top of it all, his boss won’t let him run any more intelligence tests on his favorite stupid duck.
The Zero Dollar Duck.
Things take an odd turn, however, when the duck eats some of Katie’s applesauce and then gets belted by gamma radiation. Instead of just dying, like you’d expect, the lucky duck starts laying eggs with solid gold yolks every time a dog barks (why a dog bark should have anything to do with it is beyond me). Even little Jimmy is happy to finally have the pet he’s always wanted.
“Gee whiz, Dad! He’s a utility duck! He’s even got a corkscrew!”
Once hit with the reality of owning his own feathery alchemy factory, Dooley realizes he has to start protecting his new assets from the IRS and the Treasury Department. To this end he enlists the help of his asshole lawyer neighbor friend, Fred (Tony Roberts). But wait! One of his other asshole neighbors (Joe Flynn) works for the treasury.
Joe Flynn: playing snively asshats since whenever he started playing snively asshats.
Things quickly escalate, and pretty soon Dooley is driving away from the feds in a malfunctioning power line maintenance vehicle.
Disney may or may not be running out of types of vehicles to put in zany chases.
Legal bullshit ensues.
Because kids love courtrooms.
I’m going to refrain from telling you how it all pans out, because guess what? This movie is actually a damn good time.
Mo’ ducky, mo’ problems.
Don’t ask questions, just roll with it.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
There is absolutely no denying that this is an overwhelmingly stupid movie, yet it’s still entirely enjoyable. The cast has wonderful chemistry. Sandy Duncan is adorably goofy. There are ducks fucking everywhere (the “fucking” is for emphasis, none of the ducks have horrible, horrible duck sex.)
That we know of.
I can see no reason why this film hasn’t joined the beloved ranks of The Apple Dumpling Gang and That Darn Cat! (I will readily admit that it isn’t up to Love Bug standards.) I mean, damn, there are moments where the film is intensely touching.
Albeit poorly green-screened.
Honestly, this film’s relative obscurity is a mystery to me.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
Midway through the film, Dooley and his lawyer friend Fred are stumped, unable to figure out how to explain their mysterious golden nugs to various refineries they plan to sell to. Fortunately, they stumble on a wonderful idea: have Katie go to the refineries and just tell the truth. Since she’s a woman, no one will take her seriously. Ha!
Remember, kids, women are hapless tools, at best!
Are you looking for a zany Disney animal comedy that doesn’t involve chimpanzees? Check out The Million Dollar Duck! (Full disclosure, it does have a chimp in it, but only briefly.) It may not be high praise, but I really cannot imagine anyone wringing more fun out of the tired old “goose who lays the golden eggs” fable. And guess what? I’ve made it this far without making any shitty egg puns, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. Go see this stupid flick, it’s a good dumb time.
The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973)