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Harry and the Hendersons (SE)
DVD disk
04.26.2007 By: Jason Adams
Harry and the Hendersons (SE) order
Director:
William Dear

Actors:
John Lithgow
Kevin Peter Hall
Don Ameche

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A suburban family accidentally hits Bigfoot with their station wagon and inexplicably decides to take it home, whereupon the legendary creature teaches them why hunting, wearing fur and eating meat is wrong.

Saaaaasquaaaatch…we know your legend’s real.
Saaaaasqua-ea-aw-ai-atch…we know your love is real.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Few things are worse than watching one of your favorite childhood movies twenty years later, only to discover it’s a giant nutty turd. That’s why I’d like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to any friends and family who were repeatedly forced to see HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS between my third and fourth years of existence. I blame a lack of cultivated film experience. And also cooties.

As a feel-good family movie skewed towards kids, HARRY is more than adequate. The title character, brought to life by Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning make up, is so endearing and lovable that afterwards you’ll probably have issues with your children running and hugging anything large and furry (i.e. deadly bears). There are a few other worthwhile moments scattered throughout, such as when Harry busts a gut laughing at the TV or the late Don Ameche’s reaction when he finally meets Bigfoot. But overall HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS simply suffers from being extraordinarily dumb.

The fault lies in the film’s human characters. Not only are they painfully stereotypical in their roles, but I can’t recall any member of the Henderson family who makes a good or remotely rational decision in the entire movie. Small details such as “Why isn’t anyone more shocked to discover the world’s first Sasquatch?” or “For the love of God, why are you taking the monster home with you?!” are glossed over. Other parts of the story just plain don’t make sense. For example, after Bigfoot runs away, the Hendersons decide that he should be called Harry. So John Lithgow immediately goes searching for it by yelling “Harry!”, as if a) it telekinetically knows the name they gave it post-facto and b) it’s not a Bigfoot and understands English.

It also doesn’t help that the movie is so sappy you could use it to make syrup. There was more than one point where I was genuinely terrified that John Lithgow was going to start making out with the 400 pound behemoth. In fact, it’s a little unbelievable how quickly the Hendersons fall in love with Harry. Within a minute of his awakening they’ve decided he’s a member of the family, never mind the fact that he’s destroying their house and could very well eat one of their children at any moment. (He doesn’t, sadly.)

I know I’m being tough on a movie that ultimately is made for the younger crowd. (And I’m former proof that it is.) So to end on a positive note, HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS proves that much like his cousin the Wolfman, Bigfoot’s got nards too.
THE EXTRAS
The only bonus feature of any real value is the Rick Baker-centric costume documentary. Everything else is pretty much worthless fluff.

Commentary by director William Dear: I listened to this after watching the rest of the bonus features and a lot of the same information was covered in both spots. My suggestion: choose the option that doesn’t require a second viewing of the movie.

Deleted Scenes (3:35): Three short clips, including a disturbing one where Lithgow and his wife cuddle intimately in bed while talking about the Sasquatch. Kinky.

Harry…Finding the Missing Link (17:20): Once you get past the pointless mockumentary introduction, this actually turns in to a nifty feature on how the young Rick Baker and his team brought Harry to life, including make-up, puppeteering and Bigfoot movement training. This is the only thing I was particularly curious about, so it’s nice to see it given detailed attention.

Making of HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS (5:38): A very cheesy BTS featurette from the 80s, narrated by a tongue-in-cheek John Lithgow.

Newswrap (2:35): Pretty much a condensed version of the above Making Of, but with a different narrator.

A Theatrical Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS makes me scared to watch MONSTER SQUAD. I don’t think I could handle having any more of my childhood joys shattered. (Thank God THE GOONIES still holds up.) Realistically though, HARRY will please your children (in an appropriate way), and you can always use that time to get away and watch something else.

Extra Tidbit: Kevin Peter Hall, the 7’2” tall actor who plays Harry inside the costume, was also the man-in-suit for both PREDATOR movies. Hall tragically died in 1991 as a result of an AIDS-infected blood transfusion.
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