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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Do you remember "Harry and the Hendersnons"? Neither do I, but who can forget the 1987 made-for-TV Disney Classic, "Bigfoot." I was terrorized at the tender age of 11 by the though of young Candace Cameron being abducted by those big hairy beasts. And the portrayal of the anthropologist by classic stage actress Colleen Dewhurst resembles the work of Katharine Hepburn in her prime. To this day I'm still worried that if I scare the sasquatch they'll bolt and I'll never see Candace again. It's really a shame that this movie has not been made available on DVD. It's just not right that that other bigfoot movie is out there. All that potty humor about piles of Bigfoot skat and silly antics with the family dog lulls us into a false sense of security when it comes to the reality of Bigfoot. "Bigfoot" is not our friend. They are very dangerous. The Disney classic gives a more realistic account of what might happen if you were camping in the woods and got yourself involved in a standoff with a hairy sasquatch. As a result I recommend that you watch this movie, especially if you like to go camping frequently. Maybe if enough people write to Disney it will appear on cable again soon.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Made for television around the same time as "Harry and the Hendersons,"
this Walt Disney studio production makes for a surprisingly superior
Sasquatch children's movie because it carefully avoids all the
nauseating sentimental claptrap which made "Harry and the Hendersons"
such an insufferably sappy piece of mushy muck.
Two single parents trying to make a go of it as a couple go camping in the Walla Walla mountains with their uncooperative kids in tow. The son digs nature and the daughter likes music, so hence they both can't stand each other and feel like their respective parents are neglecting them. The rivalry between these two characters is accurate and convincing; ditto the grudging acceptance the initially combative pair develop for each other when they get lost in the woods, run into a male and female Sasquatch, and get adopted by the gentle, misunderstood creatures so they can replace the child they recently lost. The parents, assisted by a gruff, but sweet and helpful Diana Fosseyesque lady anthropologist (superbly played by inestimable character actress Colleen Dewhurst), search for the missing kids. Meanwhile, a snide, supercilious millionaire (a pleasingly understated turn by Joseph Maher) doggedly tracks down the Bigfoots; he's assisted by a cynical doubting Thomas Native American helicopter pilot.
Director Danny Huston, the son of the legendary John Huston and the guy to blame for the uproariously awful Burt Reynolds psycho howler "The Maddening," lets the simple story unfold in a low-key and unforced manner, thereby keeping sentiment to a tasteful and thus tolerable minimum. Huston also elicits credible performances from a mostly non-star cast (James Sloyan and Gracie Harrison are solid as the parents; Adam Carl and Candace Cameron are excellent as the kids) and allows the relaxed, leisurely narrative to trot along at a completely believable real-life casually slow pace. John Groves' smart script never degenerates into icky-sweet pathos, dopey slapstick humor or graceless moralizing and draws the characters in a plausible manner. For example, Maher's villain isn't your standard mustache-stroking hamburger; instead he's a smug jerk who simply wants to capture Bigfoot for the glory alone. Moreover, the script cleverly plays around with Sasquatch film conventions and even gives the creatures a few endearing eccentric mannerisms. Frank Flynn's pretty, unflashy cinematography conveys a perfectly arresting approximation of everyday plain reality while Bruce Rowland's liltingly harmonic score is spare and unobtrusive throughout. Overall, "Bigfoot" serves as a textbook example of how to make a fantastic premise absorbing and persuasive by means of a cogently plain no-frills execution that puts said premise within the realms of possibility and rates highly as the only truly up-to-par Bigfoot kiddie picture to ever grace celluloid.
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