This poster says it all!
I promised a review of the movies I got at the SciFi Con and so far I’ve only seen one of them. The great 80’s family film that I grew up with Harry and the Hendersons. Like I said I used to watch this movie allot as a kid. But it’s been decades since I had seen it last. If you asked me to tell you what I remembered about the film I could tell you only two vague descrpitions. So a part of me thought before going into this film as an adult that maybe I blocked out much of this movie for a reason. It’s probably irreversably stupid.
So I sat there with my younger sister who also had little to no recollection of the movie and we dug in. To my supprise virtually nothing about the film falls into guilty pleasure territory. It’s a very well done family film.
The story centers around your typical sitcom family of that era, the well meaning hard working father played by John Lithgow (aka the guy from 3rd Rock from the Sun), the tender mother played by Melinda Dillon, the bratty self absorbed teenage daughter and her younger adventurous and often repugnant borther played by two names you never hear anymore, who go camping in the forest only to accidentally run down the local wildlife with thier car. The catch is this isn’t your average wildlife but the fabeled Bigfoot creature or Sasquatch. Thinking the large animal is dead, they attempt to take it home to try to make things right as opposed to just leaving it there. But that very night they discover that it’s still alive and hillarity ensues!!
Let’s face it, a scenario in which Chewbacca hangs out with you and your family was not bad idea for an 80’s boy. It was awsome! The thing is Bigfoot, which is later given the name Harry, is so expressive with out saying a word you know what he’s feeling. Which is a credit to special effects make up guy number 1 Rick Baker who won an Oscar for this.
Anyway back to movie. Just when you think the movie is about Harry practacally destroying the Hendersson’s home being unaware of it as he does, honest to God heart is found. Harry doesn’t like finding animal heads being displayed as trophies on the wall which the family finds endearing, and even helps him bury the deceased animals . Needless to say the family falls for the big lug and attempt to protect him from the harsh creul world of man.
No familyfilm would be complete with out a good badguy. In this we have LeFleur, the french canadian hunter hellbent on killing bigfoot once and for all proving it’s existence all in the name of fame and fortune. He’s appropriately menacing and at times comical. When he’s close by we feel the tension but when he fails its pretty funny watching him lose it.
The overall theme of the film is that we, as mankind often does, have a tendency to fear what we are not familiar with. Things that might appear dangerous might be our greatest friend. Personally I don’t think this message gets crammed down our throught. It feels natual and two other messages are made like Protect the wild life and Forgiveness. I gotta tell ya, the moment the message of forgivness happens it’s like wow! You don’t see it coming and it kinda tugs at your heart strings.
The jokes are good fun. Some are a bit childish I admit but others like the family hiding Harry from the gossipy neighbour: John Lithgow pretending to excersize in order to cover up strange goings on is friggin’ hillarous. You gotta see it for that moment alone, and something I noticed now as an adult that i never seemed to notice as a kid was this brilliant edit transsion from a intimidating stuffed grizzly bear to a homely female librarian. I dunno why, call me mean spirited, but that was funny.
All in all this film is worth the nostalgia trip. Like the dvd implies, this one is right up there with E.T.