HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS
BIGFOOT AND THE HENDERSONS
Harry and the Hendersons was one of a number of such family films that Steven Spielberg and his Amblin studios produced during the 1980s. Direction was turned over to William Dear, who had previously emerged with the mildly amusing time travel film Time Rider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1983) and then the Mummy Dearest episode of Spielbergs tv series Amazing Stories (1985-7). In fact, Harry and the Hendersons is the best film of William Dears otherwise undistinguished output. (See below for William Dears other films).
Thanks to Rick Bakers superbly expressive animatronic suit in tandem with Kevin Peter Halls extraordinary mime work, Harry is a heart-warming creation. It is hard not to be touched by the images of the creature pining as it tries to find the rest of the body a mounted deers head should be attached to, learning how to pat a dog or the image of young Joshua Rudoy and his teddy-bear curled up in a corner in its arms. Certainly, without Rick Baker and Kevin Peter Hall, Harry and the Hendersons would be a bland film. There is a marshmallowy heart to the exercise. This is something that William Dear tries frantically but not entirely successfully to paint over this with an active and witty script. However, it is the humanity that the creature is invested with that eventually makes the film. The oddest thing to emerge out of such a family film is its inclusion of a strong, sometimes poignant anti-hunting, anti-fur, pro-vegetarian message.
The film was subsequently transformed into an unfunny sitcom Harry and the Hendersons (1991-3), which surprisingly lasted two seasons. The only returnee from the film was Kevin Peter Hall.
William Dear went onto direct the James Bond spoof If Looks Could Kill/Teen Agent (1991), the unsold tv pilot Journey to the Center of the Earth (1993), the remake of Angels in the Outfield (1994), the horror film Simon Says (2006), the tv movie Santa Who (2006) and the baseball fantasy The Sandlot: Heading Home (2007). Dears work since the mid-90s has almost exclusively been in television.