Harry and the Hendersons – 3 out of 5
I haven’t seen Harry and the Hendersons in ages. I’ve seen it quite a few times in the decade or so after it was released in 1987 but after the 90s were complete and we made the jump into 2000, I haven’t seen it since. I’m not sure why it suddenly popped in my head but recently I decided to revisit it and see if it is as good as my childhood memories remember it being. It kinda is.
|Dear lord, you can see right up his nose. Look at the size of those boogers.|
Coming home from a camping trip, George Henderson (John Lithgow) and his family; his wife Nancy (Melinda Dillon), his daughter Sarah (Margaret Langrick) and his son Ernie (Joshua Rudoy), accidentally hit a Sasquatch with their vehicle. Thinking it dead, George decides to take it home with him so he can show it off but quickly discovers it is still alive and running amok in his home. While attempting to get the creature back into the wild, he discovers the human side of the beast and names him Harry (Kevin Peter Hall). Meanwhile, they have no clue that Harry was being tracked by a man name Jacques Lafleur (David Suchet) and he is out to kill the creature and prove the existence of the Sasquatch once and for all.
|What a cliche! A Frenchman obsessed with killing a mythological beast.|
I’m not going to say that Harry and the Hendersons is a bad film but I won’t go as far to say it is a classic either. The movie is entertaining and has some great charm and heart to it (albeit, the heart tends to get a little too sappy for me). However, the movie does have a few issues to it that made me realize that most of my fond memories were just from the rosy tint our development years give our childhood and that my past enjoyment of the film didn’t transfer to the same level that I had for it revisiting it as an adult.
|This sounds weird but John Lithgow seems like he probably gives great hugs.|
He just seems warm and inviting.
The immediate thing you have to talk about with Harry and the Hendersons is the costume of Harry itself. It’s just an illustrious achievement from makeup effects icon Rick Baker. The facial expressions that the creation was capable of combined with the performance of Kevin Peter Hall in the suit helped to make Harry a legit character in the story that had heart, soul and presence. The costumed was so detailed and so amazingly crafted that it was easy for me to lose myself in the character and never once question that the cast was acting with a tall man in a Bigfoot suit.
|And he would later go on and have a very successful career in monster trucks.|
As fate would have it, though, he didn't end up driving Bigfoot.
|That's probably not the best example of a Lithgow|
hug but my theory of him being a good hugger
The issues I had with this movie are pretty minor. First, I don’t really think the movie is that funny. Yes, there are moments that I found amusing and funny in a cute sorta way but the moments where I actually laughed were very rare. Secondly, the story does feel like two separate Sasquatch-meets-a-family related scripts were put side-by-side and then filmed. Basically, the movie feels like one story is them dealing with having this new beast as a pet/family member and one story that is a man trying to kill Harry. They go together serviceably but there did feel like a noticeable shift when it goes from one focus to the next. Never did it really feel like they gelled or there was a natural progression from one to the other. Finally, the running length does feel a tad long and it results in a lot of moments where the story and plot feel like it is dragging. It never gets to a point where it’s completely boring but there are times that moments feel like they are repeating themselves and sequences that feel superfluous.
|Jeez, Sasquatch gloryholes don't mess around.|
I am not trying to make the argument that Harry and the Hendersons isn’t without its charms or fun. Far from it. However, I won’t argue that the film is a classic or a great film in anyway. There are great things going on in the film in the form of movie magic bringing Harry to life and its cast is great as each performer delivers terrifically. Revisiting it as an adult, however, I see the flaws it has but I am still won over by its heart and innocence…sorta the way the Hendersons were won over by Harry.