Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Having problems at home with his wife Diane (Marcia Strassman), struggling inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) has created an electromagnetic shrink ray – unfortunately it only seems to make things explode. While at work, his next door neighbors’ son, Ron Thompson (Jared Rushton), accidentally hits a baseball through the Szalinskis’ attic window and activates the shrink ray. He and his older brother Russ Thompson, Jr. (Thomas Wilson Brown) and Wayne’s children, Amy (Amy O’Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri), go up there to retrieve it. Luckily, it got stuck in the machine and blocked one of the laser components, resulting in it only releasing enough energy to shrink things instead of blowing them up, and the kids, a nearby couch, and chair are shrunk by the beam when it fires.

As Wayne comes home from a presentation at the lab, he notices his children and “thinking couch” missing. Without an explanation for this occurrence, he begins to get angry at the machine for being joked about at work. He begins to destroy it as the kids, now 1/4 of an inch tall, try to get his attention but to no avail. He begins to sweep up the mess and accidentally dumps them into the trash with it. They escape the trashbag and find themselves at the far end of the backyard as if it were a jungle to them (with three white mushrooms thought to be trees). Knowing that crossing it to get back to the house will take hours at their size, they begin to climb a flower to try and attract the attention of the Szalinskis’ pet dog Quark. While clinging to it, Nick and Russ Jr. are attacked by a bee preparing to take some pollen. They cling to it for dear life and are separated from Ron and Amy.

Russ Thompson, Sr. (Matt Frewer), Ron and Russ Jr’s father, is getting aggravated at his missing sons since he was planning a fishing trip with the family. Russ Jr, who secretly likes Amy, often feels small compared to his dad’s standards since he was cut from the football team (although it is revealed later on that he actually quit it). While looking at the attic floor, Wayne finds his “thinking couch” in a miniature form. He soon concludes that he shrunk the kids. Diane comes home and he tells her this. She becomes infuriated with him and tries to help search for the kids.

Meanwhile, Wayne accidentally turns on the sprinklers while searching for the kids in the backyard. Giant splashes of water soon surround them. Amy begins to drown in the muddy water near the flagstone while Wayne stops the sprinklers. Russ Jr. saves her before she dies and gives her CPR. The four children continue their journey. On their way, they find a creamy cookie in the yard. As they eat some of it, they meet an ant who befriends the group, nicknamed “Antie” by Ron. Wayne and Diane decide to tell Russ Sr. and Mae (Kristine Sutherland) about the shrinking of their children. They are not pleased, but Mae seems to understand more. At the end of the night, the children decide to sleep in one of Nick’s blue Lego bricks. During the night Amy and Russ Jr. admit their feelings for each other and share a kiss, but are interrupted by an attacking scorpion. Antie is stung and fatally wounded by the scorpion’s stinger while trying to rescue them, though they scare it off by bombarding it with stones and sharp sticks (Ron is able to put out two of its eyes). They comfort Antie who within moments dies from the poison.

In the morning, Nick’s friend, Tommy, comes to mow the lawn (as part of a deal he made with Nick at the beginning of the film). The children hear the lawnmower and descend into a wormhole to escape. Wayne and Diane rush outside to make him stop, but unfortunately he does just as the lawnmower is over the hole. It sucks the kids out of it. They are not killed, but barely fail to get Wayne and Diane’s attention. They realize that their voices are too high and quiet to be heard by them, but that they can be heard by Quark. They hold onto his fur and ride him back to the house chasing off the Thompsons’ cat Spike.

While Wayne is eating a bowl of Cheerios with milk, Nick accidentally lands into it when Quark jumps on the table. The group try to get Wayne’s attention as Nick is about to be eaten. Quark bites Wayne’s leg, who freezes with the spoon halfway to his mouth. Looking through a magnifying glass at it, he sees Nick. The kids communicate to their parents that the baseball went through the window and started the shrink ray. Armed with this information, Wayne pieces together how the accident made it work and brings the kids back to normal size after testing it by shrinking and regrowing Russ Sr.

A few months later, during Thanksgiving, the two families share an enlarged turkey together and are happy. Russ Sr. has come to terms with his son quitting the football team, the two dads become friends, Wayne and Diane patch up their problems, Nick and Ron finally become friends, and Russ and Amy begin dating. The movie ends with Quark eating a giant milk bone as a Thanksgiving treat. But as the movie begins to black out, it suddenly reopens to Nick, realizing a joke that Russ made earlier about learning CPR in French class. The movie closes with him laughing, getting the joke

REVIEW:

When I was growing up, it was a rare occurrence that I would get to go see a movie in the “big theater”, as I used to call it. That was 30 miles away! Thank goodness for interesting, kid-friendly faire such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Films such as this allowed my parents to drop me off at our small town theater and watch with no problem or fear that I might see/hear something I wasn’t supposed to…until I snuck in to whatever R-rated movie was playing on the other screen. HA!

What is this about?

Wayne spends his days and nights trying to get his miniaturization machine to work, and he succeeds — only to shrink his and his neighbor’s kids.

What did I like?

Kids. Here’s a novel concept that some films seem to grasp and other totally ignore. When casting families, how about finding kids that at somewhat resemble the parents! Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, these kids are not the spitting images of their parental units, but they are close enough to pass, which may seem like a little thing, but in the grand scheme of things for a film that focuses exclusively on these two families, they need to actually look like a family.

Adventure. After the kids are shrunk down and taken out to the curb, the pace of the film picks up and it becomes a grand adventure filled with all sorts of natural hazards that we never think of because they are so small. Much in the same way regular things became a hazard, like the cat, in The Incredible Shrinking Man. I must say that the effects are obviously not top notch, but they work for this film and the audience. Had this been something more on the serious side, for instance, then I’d probably be raising a ruckus about how they didn’t use stop-motion. That isn’t the case as I was so enjoying myself that I didn’t even really notice the animatronics.

Shrink ray. The device that causes all the mayhem in this film, a shrink ray that somehow starts working correctly by accident is actually pretty advanced looking for this period in time. Throw in that the writers were smart enough to realize the science behind it and how it works, rather than just using say refracted light from the sun through crystals or some other jazz is what I liked most about it. They didn’t try to dumb this film down for its targeted younger audience. Had this film been made today, that is most certainly what would happen.

What didn’t I like?

Bully. In this day and age when bullies grow up to be police officers that get away with killing innocent teenagers, I hesitate to go on with this topic, but here we go. One of the neighbor boys, played by the Tom Hanks’ friend from Big, starts out as the typical bully to the nerdy kid. You know how this goes, right? During the journey, they end up bonding and become best friends. That’s fine and dandy, but a part of me wanted him to stay the bully. Fact is, other than the dangers of the outdoors, there really is no antagonist in this film. Leaving him in, “bully mode” would have been a suitable substitute.

Marital problems. In the time before the film begins, Rick Moranis’ character and his wife apparently had a big argument and she ran off to spend the night at her mother’s. In bits and pieces throughout the film their issues are touched on, but it just seems like some drama added in to appease the adults. As far as the actual story goes, this is a subplot that I felt could have been left out.

Effects. I’ve already said what I thought about the special effects in relation to this as a family film with a relatively small budget. However, I feel that I must address the use of cheap cardboard and Styrofoam as pollen and other giants nature creations. Ingenious would be a word I would use to describe the way to cut costs, but at the same time, it didn’t look anywhere near convincing. The various slippery substances that Nickelodeon used for the obstacle course on Double Dare back when it would come on looked more convincing than this.

I’ll admit, there is a bit of nostalgia in play when it comes to my opinion of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. That being said, it completely took me by surprise how well this film has held up over the years. I have few to little complaints about it, and those are mostly nitpicking. This is perhaps one of the best family films around that most people seem to forget about or brush to the side. I highly recommend it, though. Chances are any and everyone will enjoy it when they watch!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

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