Harry and the Hendersons (1987)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Campy and Memorable

Some movies have cursed themselves to being the butt of jokes for years. I have seen many of them myself and understand why. Usually, they are made fun of for a variety of reasons, but they all stem from the same basic idea: it’s just ridiculous. One such movie was one of the campiest ‘80s comedies, which was Harry and the Hendersons. I know that I watched this film numerous times growing up laughing at it and thinking it was just one of those good-ol’-fashioned feel good stories. Rewatching it, I realized it just doesn’t make the impact it used to, and it just turns out to deserve the bashing.

When George Henderson (John Lithgow) and his family start to leave their family vacation in the woods, they hit what seems to be a bear. Instead, they are surprised to learn it is none other than Bigfoot himself. Thinking they can get famous and win some money, they strap the sucker onto the roof of their car and drive it home. Problems arise when they learn Bigfoot didn’t really die when it was hit by their car. So the giant beast ravages their home, but soon they learn it didn’t mean to ruin their things…it just couldn’t help itself. It’s really a nice creature and they soon learn to love it. However, word that Bigfoot has been seen in the area interests the people of their town, and soon everyone, including a vicious hunter, is out for blood. Can the Henderson’s keep the animal under the radar? Find out in Harry and the Hendersons!

This is one of the campiest movies I have ever seen. The acting is absolutely horrid, especially when taking the kids into consideration. Think, “Aw, gee, pop, let’s keep it!” or a really over-the-top drama queen-of-a-daughter saying “no one ever listens to me!” – It’s bad. It’s also the reason why I’m always at least a little bit worried when a child plays a significant role in a movie. The humor in the movie may have been funny at one point in time, but nowadays…I just didn’t get a good majority of the jokes. It’s not like one of those comedies that are timeless…its bland most of the time. If you’re laughing, you’re laughing at the movie when it doesn’t want you to.

Now I get the moral of the story. Yeah, yeah, its love and acceptance, and not making pre-judgments about things and people you don’t understand until you get to know them. That is abundantly clear, and while admirable…laughing at how stupid and ridiculous the movie is trumps any real emotional connection with anyone or anything. So the real question is…why the 64%? Why not something a lot lower?

To answer that question, I just bring it all back to nostalgia. The movie is just…memorable. Even though it’s all for the wrong reasons, it’s still memorable nonetheless. I don’t think I’ll ever forget about the movie, and that’s a good thing for the movie. In fact, it must have made some kind of memorable mark because it spawned a live-action TV series based off the film that managed to get three whole seasons. I don’t know about you, but that says something about the movie, even if you don’t understand it.

I don’t think anyone should really go out and buy Harry and the Hendersons. There’s nothing that really translates well anymore, and people aren’t really missing out on anything. You might be interested enough to rent it, and if that’s so, go for it, I won’t try to stop you. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it a lot more than I did. Maybe you’ll remember it for years like I did. Otherwise, no need to look into this one.

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