Harry and the Hendersons Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
While vacationing in the Pacific Northwest, the Henderson clan accidentally run over a strange animal with their car, and when they get out to see what it is, they find the seemingly dead body of a hairy Bigfoot-type monster. Believing that the creature is a grizzly bear, the Hendersons take it home, planning to stuff the beast and put it on display in their living room. Predictably, the hirsute monster revives and is adopted by the family as a pet.
For more about Harry and the Hendersons and the Harry and the Hendersons Blu-ray release, see Harry and the Hendersons Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 3, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Sorry, no help here. I adore this one. Adore. Have since childhood. I can't dissect it any more than I could turn a cold eye on my own nostalgia. The two are just too intertwined. And I'm not the only one. Harry and the Hendersons remains a delightful early home video cult classic as charming and funny as it is sweet and heartwarming, and today's kids will have as much of a blast watching the Hendersons' misadventures in missing linkage as my generation did more than two decades ago. No small feat considering the film is some twenty-five years old. Harry is a practical suit marvel, with a terrific performance by Kevin Peter Hall and a team of puppeteers (including Rick Baker) so warm and disarming it sells the entire story. The cast is perfectly framed as the quintessential 1980s family; uptight dad (a wonderfully frantic John Lithgow), balancing force wife and mother (Melinda Dillon), angsty teen daughter (Margaret Langrick) and kind, nerdy son (Joshua Rudoy). And the laughs are genuine, even as the movie descends into sticky, syrupy '80s kitsch. Yes, genre tropes creep in, convention is king and the humans are a touch dim-witted, I'll admit. Harry and the Hendersons hasn't exactly weathered its twenty-five years and I'm sure newcomers will be far more unforgiving. Yet, with the help of nostalgia, it holds up surprisingly well, making its release on Blu-ray an event that makes the little kid in the recesses of my brain ecstatic.
A chance car accident introduces the Hendersons and their reluctant patriarch, George (Lithgow), to the real-life Bigfoot (Hall), who is anything but a ferocious monster. The kindly creature not only becomes something more than a curiosity or pet, he becomes a true friend of the family. Soon, though, the Hendersons find themselves in a race against the clock to return Harry to his natural environment before the authorities close in and discover a "monster" in the middle of suburbia.
Harry and the Hendersons features a rather impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that doesn't succumb to the issues that plague so many second and third-tier Universal catalog titles. Noise reduction has been employed to a limited degree, but its judicious use doesn't lead to any significant smearing or detail loss. Slight edge halos are also apparent at times, but they too are kept to a minimum. Otherwise, all is as it should be. Edge definition is crisp, fine textures are well-resolved, grain is intact and delineation is excellent. (There is a bit of softness to be found, but, from what I can tell, it's almost entirely optical.) Colors and skintones are nicely saturated too (barring a few problematic shots), and contrast is dialed in capably and consistently, with satisfying blacks and pleasing primaries. I don't have any real complaints, although a more thorough remastering would most likely produce more refined, perfectly faithful results. That said, I suspect any differences would be minor, making this one easy to recommend.
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is quite good as well, even though it's a tad front-heavy as remixes of '80s family comedies tend to be. Dialogue is clean, clear and competently prioritized, with very little in the way of tininess, wayward voices or unsupported lines. LFE output is hearty and healthy, even boasting a particular bit of heft when it comes to Harry's roars, and rear speaker activity is reasonably engaging. The soundfield isn't all that immersive per se -- directionality is merely decent, and erratic at that -- but this is 1987 we're talking about here, and not a big budget 1987 action extravaganza. Could Harry and the Hendersons sound much better? It's doubtful. As catalog lossless tracks go, there isn't much disappointment to endure, if any.
Audio Commentary: Aside from standard definition video and a lack of a main menu, Harry and the Hendersons' supplemental package offers a decent assortment of special features. Up first, an extensive audio commentary with director William Dear packed with insight into the film's genesis and development, production details, practical effects, puppetry and suit design overviews, and plenty of anecdotes. Dear really doesn't leave any stone unturned and remains an engaging speaker throughout. There are a few too many silent stretches (even early on), but it doesn't detract from the overall quality of the track.
The Making of Harry and the Hendersons (SD, 6 minutes): A cute but frivolous tongue-in-cheek featurette narrated by Lithgow in which his fellow actors discuss meeting and working with their historically elusive co-star.
Harry: Finding the Missing Link (HD, 17 minutes): After a similarly tongue-in-cheek opening, "Finding the Missing Link" gets down to business, examining the creation, puppeteering and performance of Harry by Kevin Peter Hall and Rick Baker and his team.
Newswrap Featurette (SD, 3 minutes): A rehash of the "Making Of" short.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 4 minutes): Three wisely cut deleted scenes.
Sigh. Cards on the table. If it weren't for the mighty hand of childhood nostalgia, Harry and the Hendersons wouldn't really amount to anything special. Rick Baker's creature effects remain impressive but the rest of the film is pure '80s sap and sentiment, from top to bottom. Still, I can't help but love every minute of it. I refuse to let my cynical, critical present tear down every favorite I once held dear. And while that may not be of any use to those among you who are coming to Harry and the Hendersons for the first time -- apologies for the bias -- fans of the film will know exactly what I'm talking about. Thankfully, Universal's Blu-ray AV presentation doesn't require much bias. It's that good, particularly the disc's video transfer. The supplemental package leaves something to be desired (specifically a more in-depth production documentary or new content), but director William Dear's audio commentary soothes most of the sting. All told, fans will find Harry's Blu-ray debut to be one worth owning.
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Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release director William Dear's Harry and the Hendersons, starring John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Margaret Langrick, Joshua Rudoy and Kevin Peter Hall. The family comedy makes its Blu-ray debut on March 4, 2014.
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