Harry and the Hendersons

A big, Harry family adventure full of laughs.
  • Review Date: May 26, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1987
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Henderson family tries to save Harry from being killed by hunters or put on display. The story is set in an area where hunting is common/popular. The Henderson family bonds are strengthened in the end.

Positive role models

The father is at first an avid hunter and is resistant to befriending Harry. But with the help of his family he quickly realizes the error of his ways.

Violence & scariness

Most action is cartoon-like; minor fighting but no blood. Some of the main characters are avid hunters, and there are plenty of scenes with guns and shooting, but no blood.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Littlest Henderson cusses ("holy s--t," and "sucks"); adults use "s--t-load," "s--tless," "bulls--t," "hell," "goddamn," "Christ's sake," and "bastard."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the action scenes are kept cartoonish. The male Hendersons are avid hunters -- Grandpa Henderson owns a gun store and his son works there. Also, Mr. Henderson holds up a rabbit he's just killed as his son cheers; citizens arm themselves and go on hunting parties to kill Bigfoot. There's no blood and no one gets shot, but lots of guns and ammunition are shown. There are a few scuffles and minor fights. Some adults and one child swear, using many versions of "s--t."

What's the story?

The Henderson household turns upside down with the arrival of humungous houseguest Harry family comedy. After accidentally mowing down a real live, really smelly Sasquatch, the Henderson family believes the strange creature is dead. In complete shock, they tie it to the top of their station wagon and head home. Tucked away in the Henderson's suburban home, the Sasquatch revives and goes on a mad hunt for anything that fits his vegetarian diet. When dad George Henderson (John Lithgow) comes face-to-face with the enormous, wild creature, his instincts kick in and at first he considers shooting the Bigfoot to save his family. But Harry, as the Hendersons end up naming him, proves to be an intelligent, gentle being. And once the family comes to love him, they realize they must save him from those who would do him harm.

Is it any good?


A comedy at heart, HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS offers some touching scenes and powerful messages in between rollicking action scenes, slapstick gags, and sharp one-liners. Harry bonds with each member of the Henderson family -- especially precocious (and occasionally foul-mouthed) 8-year-old Ernie (Joshua Rudroy) -- and the Hendersons unite in their mission to save their newfound friend.

Most of the action is cartoonish, but there is definitely some suspense when the hunters go after Harry. And for those against hunting, the story loses some of its enjoyment. Otherwise, this movie is pure family comedy wrapped up in a wild adventure story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the legend of Bigfoot, and the variations of Bigfoot from around the world. Do you think it's possible that such a remarkable creature could remain undiscovered? If Do you think what the Hendersons experienced could really happen?

  • undisputable proof of Bigfoot's existence was finally uncovered, what are some of the things we might learn?

  • Some of the characters schemed to make money by capturing and exhibiting Harry the Bigfoot. How do you feel about that, and how does it compare to zoos? The circus?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 26, 1987
DVD release date:April 24, 2007
Cast:John Lithgow, Joshua Rudroy, Melinda Dillon
Director:William Dear
Studio:Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Harry and the Hendersons was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous February 19, 2015
age 8+

Very funny "Bigfoot" spoof is good for families

My rating:PG for mild language and scary images
Parent of a 4 and 10 year old Written byJ9800 March 22, 2010
age 9+

Foul language out weighs viewing for younger children

The foul language seem superfluous and added nothing but distraction to our kids. I'm surprised the movie did not have a PG-13 rating.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educator and Parent Written byEmangina June 12, 2013
age 9+

Harry Come Live With Us

I cherish this movie from my childhood and don't recall the language or violence. That was until I watched it with my kids. I found myself running for the tv as the little boy started cussing 5 minutes into the film. Now did those things stick with me into my adulthood, probably not. All I recalled was how funny it was and how sad it was at the end. I wish I had waited to share this one with my kids. They were 3 and 4 at the time. These 80's movies will catch you off guard! Be cautious.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 9 years old April 9, 2008
age 0+

Pretty Good Movie

I liked this movie. My sister and dad like it a lot, too. We have watched it about 5 times, and I think I will watch it again.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass