“Howard” is the untold story of Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist behind Disney classics and creator ofmusicals including featuring never-before-seen archival footage, the film explores Howard's journey to become the lyricist behind some of the most well-known family films in the world.
The film documents the life of songwriter Howard Ashman, who wrote the lyrics for the songs in the Disney animated films The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, as well as the stage musical, Little Shop of Horrors, and who died in March 1991 of complications from AIDS at the age of 40. The film uses the same interview presentation as Hahn's previous documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty, where rather than "talking heads", audio interviews are used with "speech bubbles" indicating who is speaking.
The film has earned critical praise. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The critical consensus reads, "Howard serves as a bittersweet tribute to the life and legacy of a brilliant artist whose timeless songs served as the soundtrack for a generation of Disney fans." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter called it "a rich cinematic portrait" while Melissa Leon of The Daily Beast stated that the film is "riddled with gems from the production of now-iconic films". Common Sense Media rated the film 4 out of 5 stars, stating : "Howard is a moving documentary that offers both a behind-the-scenes look at the making of some modern-classic Disney animated films and the poignant life story of an exceptionally talented man".
Howard premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for the Best Documentary Award at the 2018 Heartland Film Festival. After having a limited theatrical run on December 18, 2018, the film was released on Disney+ on August 7, 2020.