Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sasquatch Jordan: Big & Hairy

When one stumbles upon a title like Big & Hairy at a used DVD store, one never quite knows what to expect. A google image search, for example, is indecisive:



Oh my

Yet this Big & Hairy contains no visible genitalia or Robin Williams’ mugging. With a screenplay by Brian Daly—based on his own ‘novel’—and directed by Philip Spink, 1998’s Big & Hairy tells the universal story of a boy, basketball, and his pet sasquatch.

Quick Plot: Meet sixth grader Picasso Dewlap. In addition to bearing one of cinema history’s stupidest names, Picasso is in a bit of a funk. Picasso Dewlap (the more I say it the more amusing it gets) has just moved with his hippie parents to Cedar Island, a chilly little hamlet where only two things matter: the local lawn ornament factory and middle school basketball.

Before you call a lawyer to sue for inevitably stealing your life story (because so many of us grew up in lands lorded over by junior high hoops and ceramic gnomes), allow me to get to the real meat of Big & Hairy: le sasquatch.

After botching the final seconds of the team’s first big game, Picasso Dewlap (you got that, right?) sinks deeper into a new kid depression cured only by Christmas. While visiting his coach on December 25th--not weird at at all--Picasso Dewlap meets Ed, a, well, you know…sasquatch. A nature documentary already taught spunky Picasso Dewlap everything he needed to know about caring for sasquatches, so rather than waste time learning the language of roars, Picasso Dewlap does what any wise 12-year-old would do and enrolls him in school so that Ed can play on the all-important basketball team.

As one would expect, such a revolutionary move causes an incredibly minor local stir. So minor in fact that a quick board meeting validates Ed’s player status, although his inclusion means Picasso has to quite the team because really, a sasquatch is a way better point guard than a whiny new kid with a gay dad.

I’m sorry, that came out wrong. But yes, Picasso’s dad is adoringly gay, even if he happens to be married to a woman. I don’t mean this offensively in the least: Waltons and It actor Richard Thomas hams up his role as the premiere lawn ornament designer in a way a grown man wearing one earring and a pink poncho can. It’s actually the film’s highlight, an in no way do I mean 'gay' as anything negative. It's just kind of impossible to believe this character as played how he is enjoys having sex with his wife.

But still: sasquatch > Richard Thomas as a closeted lawn ornament designer, so we shall move on.

Ed is, of course, a basketball prodigy, mostly because he’s 3 feet taller than his opponents and three species stronger. The town rejoices as his team begins to dominate the league, until, for whatever reason, the fickle peasants grow weary of his antics.


People, seriously: I live in New York City, a place internationally known as one of the world’s most interesting locales. On any given night, I could attend major league baseball, see a mummy, watch the Westminster dog show, march in a gay pride parade, sit down for a burlesque performance, philosophize with the homeless, give a quarter to a subway Mariachi band, ride a roller coaster, savor a beer tasting, see a silent film revival, Occupy Wall Street, take a cruise, eat at a chocolate fair, steal a banana from the craft service table for Law & Order: SVU, swing on a trapeze, or get recruited by a Scientologist. I have karaoked with self-proclaimed former rock stars in dive bars, played fetch with Famke Jansen’s Boston Terrier at a dog run, and seen Hugh Jackman do high kicks on Broadway (twice) and let me tell you something: every one of those things is less interesting than WATCHING A SASQUATCH PLAY BASKETBALL.

This is why I could never be a politician: I just don’t get the masses.

As his spectators get bored, Ed develops the flu while Picasso learns that it was wrong to use Ed to make friends, since Ed was his real friend the whole time. Note that this is clearly meant to be a major lesson of the film (there’s a family guide with leading questions and everything) but never did Picasso show any sign of NOT being Ed’s friend. Ed was cool, it helped other kids not hate Picasso, and now Ed doesn’t feel well. Somehow we should learn something from this, and despite the fact that I’m a good 20 years older than the target audience of Big & Hairy, I suddenly just don’t feel too smart.

Thankfully the movie adds more sasquatches, and my existential dilemma ends because, you know, the only thing better than a sasquatch playing basketball is more sasquatches. Ed meets up with his parents and brings them to the final Big Game, where Picasso resumes his old position and Ed’s parents take up the vital role of naked cheerleaders. Happiness ensues, the cast celebrates in a local bar, and every main actor gets to awkwardly dance to calypso music for their big credit.

As you do.

High Notes
Once Ed’s charms help Picasso land some friends, the kids have a positively charming Be Kind Rewind-esque play scene where they don garbage cans, earmuffs, and paper towel rolls to play some Star Wars fun (and yes, Ed naturally takes on the role of Chewie). It’s actually quite adorable

Low Notes
I find it hard to identify with any local populace that gets bored WATCHING A SASQUATCH PLAY BASKETBALL

Lessons Learned
There aren’t that many opportunities for ceramic lawn ornament designers

Island boys don’t choke

Chekhov's law of overpowering hair dryers: once you introduce one, you damn better well turn that button to max later in the film

The Winning Line
“When I get in the “Oh” zone, I’m unstoppable.”
Yes, this line is spoken by a 12-year-old regarding his basketball prowess and yes, you should be as unsettled by its implications as I am

Soundtrack Strangeness
The Greatest Thing That Has Ever Happened In the History of Cinema occurs around the hour mark, when Picasso and Ed attend the school’s Valentine dance. My ears perked up as one of my very own karaoke standards started to play, inspiring images of Converse sneakers and big socks in heels toe tapping away in full 1981 Kevin Bacon greased glory. How did Big & Hairy get the rights to Footloose, I wondered aloud only to be answered promptly by the lyrics: “Kick up the shoes and turn around/it’s time you want to dance with me.”

What the…it can’t…they didn’t…THEY DID!

Like a squarer Vanilla Ice with quieter audio, someone involved in this production took Kenny Loggins’ crowning work and rearranged it JUST slightly enough to not, I imagine, be a sue-able offense. I naturally watched the full credit reel for Big & Hairy to see what clever musical maven could do such a thing, only to be disappointed with one single song credit (“Stuck In the Middle With You,” which is an odd scene involving Picasso dancing between his parents that I’d rather not discuss) and no acknowledgment whatsoever that Big & Hairy featured ANY other music, much less A REARRANGED VERSION OF FOOTLOOSE.

Greatest. Thing. Ever.

Standard Animals Doing Human Stuff Trope Checklist
New Kid In Town: Check
Recent Dead or Divorced Parent: X
Montage: Check
New Friendship: Check
Potentially Inappropriate ‘Friendship’ Between Child & Unrelated Adult: Check
Evil Corporate Enemy: Check
Original Song: Well, “Shoes Off” is kind of special, so heck yes
Bully Comeuppance: Check
Small Town Values: Check
Back To Nature Moral: Check
Overall Score: 9/10

Now that's how you start Animals Doing Human Stuff Month!

Pornographic title aside, Big & Hairy is a perfectly sound children’s film with nothing overtly offensive about it. The movie also has a sasquatch playing basketball, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s about 90,000,000 times better than The Artist, and THAT animal sorta doing some stuff film won THE ARFING OSCAR! The DVD includes a family discussion guide that has a quietly creepy male voice asking thematic questions about the film. I imagine these are designed to ensure your child understood the lessons of Big & Hairy, but to me, they came off more as a neighborly serial killer sorting through his victim criteria. I, have however, been known to overthink such matters in the past.


  1. Words cannot express how much I love everything within this review, Emily. Also, I HAVE to see this movie, ASAP.

  2. I'm bringing it with me to lend to Justin for HHW. We need to start some circulation ring!

  3. Sounds like a must-quatch to me.. And I agree what the hell could make a basketball playing sasquatch boring? Talk about a tough crowd...

  4. Mustquatch! I LOVE IT!

    And seriously! Ed wins a few games and suddenly the town diner is going broke because nobody goes out to eat after the games because NOBODY GOES TO THE GAMES WHERE A SASQUATCH PLAYS BASKETBALL!

    I don't get it. I just don't.