Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) / Comedy-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: PG for mild language and some scary images
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman, Thomas Brown, Jared Rushton, Amy O'Neill, Robert Oliveri,
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay: Ed Naha, Tom Schulman
Review published June 6, 2006
Although dominated by its impressive special effects, Honey I Shrunk the Kids thankfully proves to be much more than just a treat for the eyes. For a family film, it is occasionally clever in its humor, even when it is broad, and it does show an imaginative side that offers a few unexpected turns within the course of the very simplistic story. It's a Disney film, so you know what to expect here, with lots of adventure from the perspective of the children, while the parents are a bit clueless as to what to do about the whole situation. The younger you are, the more mileage you'll probably get out of the whole thing, but at least it is entertaining enough for adults to keep an interest in while the kids will no doubt watch with rapt attention.
Rick Moranis (Spaceballs, Ghostbusters) stars as lovable dad and ambitious college professor Wayne Szalinski, who has recently become something of a laughing stock to his peers when he dares to introduce a potential way to drastically reduce the size of everyday objects. His own experiments have proved futile, but a fluke accident causes the reduction machine to finally work -- too bad the Szalinski children are the ones in the ray's path, along with the rambunctious neighbor kids, the Thompsons. Wayne accidentally tosses the kids out with the trash, causing the miniscule kids to have to venture through the entire yard and hope they can grab the attention of their parents, and, hopefully, the professor can figure out a way to grow them back to normal size again. Making it there proves more difficult than it would seem, with treacherous bugs and other pollutants blocking the way at nearly every turn.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids benefits greatly from its visual components, which are still quite impressive to this day. With sophisticated special effects, good stop-motion animation, and quality oversized props and sets, the look and feel of a backyard full of jungle-like proportions is fully realized in every detail. Sometimes the scale of things is questionable, such as a scorpion that is not much more than twice the size of an ant, and also the physics of things seem dubious, like when the whirling blades of an overhead lawnmower almost suck the kids out of a wormhole to certain death. However, the adventure moves at a brisk enough pace that such inconsistencies with natural laws are only a momentary distraction, and soon we have new challenges and obstacles to keep us entertained.
As with most Disney live-action features, the jokes are broad, while there is also a tendency to play unrealistically cute, such as when the Szalinski dog takes an active role in heroism. Nitpicks aside, this is still a great movie for the kids, and still modestly appealing enough for adults, with energetic pacing, a likeable ensemble of child actors, and more inventiveness than is usually afforded a special effects-laden family film.
©2006 Vince Leo