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Film: Harry and the Hendersons
A Lovely Family Portrait
For as long as there have been stories, there have been legends. Many of these explain things now covered by science, while others cover the inexplicable for which science cannot account. Even as human knowledge expands, there always seem to be elusive creatures that tread the blurry line between legend and fact, which people swear are real but no one has been able to reliably study. These creatures are likely to remain in the shadows of human understanding.

At least they were.

George Henderson just hit one with his car.

Realizing that he just made the find of the century on his way back from a family camping trip, George packs up what he believes to be the corpse of a Sasquatch and takes it home with visions of fame and fortune dancing in the minds of his family, but soon after makes a number of other discoveries: The creature was not dead, only stunned. And far from being the rampaging monster they first fear it is, it appears to be quite gentle and curious, if confused about its current setting.

Now they have a new problem: Keeping it a secret.

Harry and the Hendersons (1987) is a family comedy film starring John Lithgow as George Henderson, against the rather phenomenal special effects by Rick Baker used to bring the friendly Bigfoot to life, for which the movie won an Oscar. It was followed by a live-action series following the adventures of the Hendersons and their pet Bigfoot, billed as "ALF for the 90's".

This movie contains examples of:

  • Award Bait Song: Love Lives On by Joe Cocker.
  • Batman in My Basement: The basic premise.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Harry.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Not only does George yell at Harry to try to get him to leave (so he can escape a Sasquatch hunter), he also punches him. Considering Harry's size, ordinarily this would be very bad for George's health.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: George finally stands up to his father and goes off on him after the latter changes his gentle Sasquatch standee to look more ferocious.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Harry doesn't know that the Hendersons' house isn't Sasquatch-proofed.
  • Fish out of Water: Harry, once transplanted to suburbia.
  • Gentle Giant: Harry might be big and strong, but in personality he's like an eight-foot teddy bear. He is also a herbivore, and gets visibly upset when confronted with hunting trophies, furs, and even cooked meat. (George had been a hunter, and worked in a hunting goods store at the beginning of the movie.)
  • Groin Attack: LaFleur knees Harry in the squishy bits. At first it seems to do nothing but make him mad - but then he drops LaFleur and howls in pain, and then gets really mad. Apparently Sasquatch has nards.
  • Heel-Face Turn
  • Hidden Depths: George initially seems like your typical manly man hunter, but his interactions with Harry show that he is also quite kind, sensitive, and a highly talented artist.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: How the Sasquatches avoid being found.
  • Masquerade: The Hendersons realize that Harry could be in a lot of danger if people find out about him.
  • Meaningful Name: Harry didn't come with a name, but Ernest misinterprets his father referring to "our hairy friend" as "our Harry friend" and the name sticks.
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: Played with: Harry's fur is thicker in that particular area and nothing is in immediate evidence, but Sarah Henderson states that she can tell he is male. (Her mother starts to ask how she knows, but has a moment of realization and avoids further inquiry).
  • Nosy Neighbor: Irene.
  • The Other Rainforest: Most of the action takes place in Seattle, but true to the myth, Harry hails from the forest of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Right Behind Me: Dr. Wrightwood discovers near the end that for someone who is eight feet tall and probably more than 500 pounds, Harry is really, really quiet.
  • Shoo the Dog
  • Shout-Out: Sarah frets that Harry's presence will wreck her social life, speculating that her classmates will pour pig's blood on her if they find out.
    • The Addams Family theme music plays during a scene where Harry is being groomed.
    • George mentions to Nancy (played by Melinda Dillon, who has played another well-known mom) that even though he asked for paints for Christmas one year, his father got him a BB gun.
  • Somewhere, a Mammalogist Is Crying: Most primates would interpret Harry's toothy grin as an aggressive or fearful gesture rather than a friendly one.
  • Stock Ness Monster: After LaFleur finally gives up on hunting Harry, Wrightwood asks him what he will do now. LaFleur states he might try hunting the Loch Ness Monster.
  • WHAM Line:
    George: You take care of yourself now, okay?
    Harry: Okay! (grins)

Hard Ticket to HawaiiFilms of the 1980sHouse Of Games

alternative title(s): Harry And The Hendersons
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