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HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS
Charming score for family film has several fine aspects, though is not top-drawer Broughton
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
Music composed by
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Album running time
Album cover copyright (c) 1987 Universal Pictures; review copyright (c) 2008 James Southall
A gentle family film, Harry and the Hendersons sees Bigfoot move in with a family, get taken in as one of their own, but then get taken away by distrusting authorities and so have to be rescued. If you were to replace the word "Bigfoot" with "an extraterrestrial" then you essentially have the plot of a rather more famous film, a point which was not lost on commentators at the time, but to be honest the similarities are somewhat superficial and this film is quite pleasant in its own kind of way. It was actually produced by Steven Spielberg, whose "second favourite composer" at the time was Bruce Broughton, and he was eager to get the talented composer (who had been handed the Young Sherlock Holmes assignment by producer Spielberg) some big projects to work on.
Harry and the Hendersons is a big, boistrous score, which has never been available on CD, but now Intrada comes to the rescue (as it so often does) with this greatly-expanded album compared with the original LP, including the majority of the music Broughton wrote for the film. The score opens rather deceptively, with the Mozart-inspired main title piece, featuring an unusually classical arrangement of the film's main theme. The style never appears again in the score, but it's still a nice piece. The theme itself is typical Broughton, being sprightly and catchy and very effective.
The score as a whole is built primarily from that one theme, with it functioning as a kind of romantic family theme, a rambunctuous theme for Harry, and occasionally a more menacing one for when things go awry. Around that comes a lot of boistrous action music, which surprisingly is where the music falls down a bit. The mickey-mousing is perfect for the film, but I always find it quite difficult to listen to such film music when it's on an album - it's not hard to admire the craft that's gone into it, but it's pretty hard to really enjoy listening to it.
However, it is not without reason that this score was a holy grail for many, and the most-requested of the unreleased Bruce Broughton scores - it has a big heart, and is quite infectious in its charm. The composer has written far more compelling music elsewhere, but there are many aspects of Harry and the Hendersons that are easy to warm to, and I'm sure this will be a popular release for that reason.