Picks and Pans Review: Harry and the Hendersons

updated 07/06/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It waits until the lights are out. It stalks you relentlessly and strikes just when you think you're going to have a good time. It's...it's...it's another limp ripoff of E.T.! When John Lithgow and Melinda (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) Dillon are driving home from a camping trip with their two kids and crash into Bigfoot not once but twice, it's a sign of things to come. When they get him home, his cloying cuteness more than compensates for the bad smell that daughter Margaret {My American Cousin) Langrick constantly complains about. Harry, played by 7'2" Kevin Peter Hall (who also plays the monster in Predator), even cries when Lithgow tries to take him back home. Harry manages to escape, and after numerous sightings in the Seattle area, everyone flocks to Lithgow's sporting-goods store for guns. His father, played by M. Emmet (Blood Simple) Walsh, decides to make the store "B.H.Q." (Bigfoot headquarters) but is disappointed when Lithgow makes a life-size drawing of the alleged beast. "I wanted King Kong and you brought me a giant gerbil," Walsh tells Lithgow in the film's funniest line. The rest of the film is a race by Lithgow, characteristically engaging despite the inept material, and anthropologist Don Ameche to save Harry from French trapper David (The Falcon and the Snowman) Suchet. Director and co-writer William Dear has few jokes and repeats them again and again, perhaps a reflection of his background in TV commercials. Even children, for whom this film was obviously intended, are likely to lose their patience. In the end when Suchet says, "It's over," Ameche responds, "Over? It's just beginning." That there could be more out there like this is a scary thought indeed. (PG)

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