- Movie Rating -

Harry and the Hendersons (1987)

| June 5, 1987

I will get no points for assessing that Harry and the Hendersons is basically another redo of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  It even has Spielberg serving as executive producer.  Yet. unlike my fellow critics I will not call it a clone.  Clone would indicate that the two movies are identical in structure and quality.  This movie only has the structure.

What is similar is that Harry is essentially another lifeform that only exists in crypto mythology, in this case Bigfoot.  Half the population believes that he exists, the other half isn’t so sure.  The same goes for E.T.  What is different is the creature.  Yes, they’re both very cute and very sweet.  The difference is that E.T., while a special effect made of rubber and wires. felt real.  He really seemed to exist.  Harry does not.  He’s about nine-feet tall and looks like a guy is wearing a wooly suit with a Halloween mask.  Yeah, there were sweet moments but I was always aware that I was watching a guy in a costume – the magic never came alive.

The other problem is the story.  E.T.  was smart and his story had elements of humanity.  In this film, the emphasis is on slapstick.  Harry is discovered by the Henderson family on their way back from a hunting trip when they hit something with their car that they initially think is a man but quickly determine to be Bigfoot.  They drag it home where they think that the find might be profitable only to discover that is, in fact, not dead.  They form a quick bond with Harry and spend the rest of the movie hiding him from nosy neighbors and scientist who just want to see what colour his organs are.

That’s really it.  The problem is that there isn’t much else.  Most of the comedy comes from Harry who is nine-feet tall and spends much of the movie destroying portions of the Henderson’s house.  It doesn’t pay off – one crash into a wall or ceiling is funny.  Five crashes wears on your nerves.  The great thing about E.T. was that he was constantly surprising us with his otherworldly intelligence.  Harry doesn’t have that.  He’s a gentle giant with nice eyes.  He never really surprises you at all.

Will kids like the movie?  Probably.  It’s inoffensive, cute and at 110 minutes not overlong.  Personally, I’d opt for a refresher on E.T. it’s a much better movie with the same palette.  You’ll be glad you did. 

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy