Michael Bay is our generation's polio. He does terrible, destructive things and yet is somehow presidential. His latest assault on our senses is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which, even though it isn't directed by him, looks exactly like every movie he's ever made, only with turtles instead of robots/asteroids/Martin Lawrence.
Unless you've been consciously avoiding the trailers for the film, you probably saw the turtles already and had that moment we all had when you think, "Huh. That's not right." And maybe you left it there, or maybe you ranted on an IMDb board for several weeks, whatever it takes for you to get to sleep at night. Whatever you chose to do, we can all agree that the turtles in this new film are reptilian night terrors with ugly lips, and no good can come from their continued existence. But don't let that go to your head. While these creatures are abominations that will weirdly alter your Megan Fox-themed boners from here on out, they're not the worst anthro beasts film has produced in recent memory. Hollywood has been making us uncomfortable for years with man-things, and some are just so much more unnatural than the turtles. So, as a public service, before you go see TMNT and hop on Twitter to express your disgust, take a minute to reflect on these creepy buggers.
4 Howard the Duck
In 1986, America was crying out for entertainment. 1985 had given us The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Commando, Return of the Living Dead, and Tom Cruise's single best unicorn-themed film ever, Legend. 1986 had a lot to live up to. And sure, it gave us Aliens, Labyrinth, Stand by Me, The Fly, Top Gun, and a host of others, but they were all baked in the same oven of potential that gave us Howard the Duck. Howard the Goddamn Duck.
In the way Guardians of the Galaxy was based on a comic book few people outside of hardcore comic nerdliness have ever read, Howard the Duck was based on a comic book no one really ever read that took Donald Duck and asked, "What if this talking duck was real, surly, and had to deal with the horror and ennui of real life in a satirical and often dark and morose way?" But then the movie ignored the satire part and made it about a space duck with a personality disorder.
The resulting film asks you to accept a child-size man-duck who wants to bang Marty McFly's mother and who has to fight the pedophilic principal from Ferris Bueller. That sentence is horrifying, and your asshole should be clenched up like an old lady gripping her purse on the bus.
"I'm just a midget in a smelly suit."
Why would a duck want to have sex with a woman anyway? How does a duck pronounce B's and P's without lips? Why don't Howard's eyes move? And why would anyone base a movie on a character with no redeeming qualities beyond the fact that he's a duck?
The Ninja Turtles crack wise, practice ninjitsu, and are also heroic. They have a lot going for them. Howard the Duck was a small asshole. He was a downer, a cynical loser with sexual charm on par with a creepy uncle and the ability to land jokes like a blind guy lands planes. So in case you were wondering why no one liked the Howard the Duck movie, that was pretty much it.
The Mel Brooks classic Spaceballs gives us a two-for-one on creepy anthro characters, although we get to see one for only a few moments. The other character, Barf, is so well executed in this movie that you probably completely overlooked how potentially off-putting the reality of a John Candy-size dog-man would be.
Barf is introduced as Lone Starr's faithful sidekick, the Chewbacca to his Han Solo. The difference is that Barf is a Mog, half-man, half-dog. Doesn't mean much, right? Good for a laugh, there's a sight gag with his tail wagging and his ears standing up at some point, it's pretty funny. Now think of everything you have ever known about dogs. Everything. Now picture John Candy licking his own asshole.
"Shins break when I hump legs."
I should stop the article right here and take a shower, and so should you. I loved John Candy, I loved every movie that man made, even Who's Harry Crumb? No one could make me laugh like John Candy, so don't think this comes from a place of disdain or mocking dislike. But no one should ever be led down a road where the conclusion involves John Candy licking his own ass, but that's what Mel Brooks gave us. And that's just one aspect of Mog life we have to imagine Barf engaging in. There's also leg humping, eating poop, and scooting his itchy butt across your carpet.
Spaceballs gets bonus points for the inclusion of Pizza the Hutt, who of course isn't an animal but is still an anthropomorphic pizza man who gets eaten by a robot at some point during the movie. As cool as Aqua Teen Hunger Force is, and as much of a one-off joke someone named Pizza the Hutt is, living food has always been a little unsettling to me. There's an entire segment of society right now that won't eat meat because it once was alive. How would those people react to eating food that not only once was alive, but still is alive and can crack wise, wear sunglasses, and make threats again people for not paying their debts on time?
"Say no to the Stuffed Crust. Trust me."
The very idea of a living pizza man is entirely too disturbing for words in this context of sentient foods. Were his constituent parts once alive, like the cheese and the pepperoni? Did they die so the greater beast could live, or was their genetic uniqueness added to his own and he's like a hive mind, a dozen ingredients thinking in unison, none of them aware that their shitty jive-robot sidekick is slowly devouring them? It's just uncomfortable to think about.