HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES A film review by Steve Rhodes Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): **
"Baseball camp will pass, but science is always cool," advises quintessentially nerdy father Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) to his closet athlete son Adam (Bug Hall) in the third installment of the people reduction/enlargement series. This one, HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES, is a direct-to-video version released this year.
Whereas some boys might hide a "girlie" magazine in their room, Adam hides a Sports Illustrated for Kids. (No, not the swimsuit issue.) You see, he doesn't want to go to Camp Isosceles to learn trigonometry. He'd rather be taught batting skills than learn the Pythagorean theorem.
If you've seen any of the other films in the series, you could probably write the script as well as this one by Karey Kirkpatrick, Nell Scovell, and Joel Hodgson. They use almost a computer generated approach, picking and choosing various parts of the last two (three if you count the one shown only at Disney's Epcot Center) and slightly modifying the plot elements so that there are no exact duplications. The result is a somewhat satisfying but all too repetitive story. If you've never seen any of the others, you'll probably like HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES better than those of us who have seen all four.
As in all of the shows, one of the delights of the picture is all of the gadgets Wayne has in his house. (His answering machine plays the announcement: "You've reached the Szalinskis. At the sound of the beep, please leave your message, your FAX, or your binary file.")
The setup for this version has kooky inventor Wayne about to donate his incredible shrinking machine to the Smithsonian. He has been ordered by the government and his wife Diane (Eve Gordon) never to use the machine again. So of course, he does. This time accidentally shrinking all of the adults: himself, his wife, his brother Gordon (Stuart Pankin), and Gordon's wife Patty (Robin Bartlett).
This leaves Adam along with his cousins Jenny(Allison Mack) and Mitch (Jack Richardson) thinking they will be alone in the house for the weekend. Unbeknownst to them, their parents are there, just too tiny to be seen.
Adam and Mitch, who are grade school age, spend the time making messes like exploding volcanoes made out of balloons filled with chili and beans, creating a disaster area in the kitchen.
Teenybopper Jenny invites her girlfriends over for a party. As always, girls attract boys like flies to honey, but all of the movie's teenagers are exceedingly nice. Even the bad kids look like honor student potentials.
The movie pushes wholesomeness to the limit when Jenny's would-be boyfriend gives her an innocent, but unsolicited kiss in the kitchen. The show treats her put-down of the boy, whom she desired so much a few minutes earlier, as a big deal. Her unseen, tiny mother cheers on her insults of the kiss stealing boy. The poor boy, who is guilty of not understanding every nuance of the dating protocol, looks like he has just been caught shoplifting. Although some of Jenny's actions make little sense, actress Allison Mack shows considerable promise and the camera loves her little smiles.
Alternating with the antics of the kids are the trials and tribulations of the adults as they move through the house attempting to attract the kids' attention. The special effects are fairly straightforward, but the attacking cockroach and the helpful daddy longlegs are particularly well done.
Most of the dialog is too light-weight and unbelievable. Typical is the scene where the two mothers swap recipes as they are dangerously pulled high in the air by the daddy longlegs. The whole show is like this -- a pleasant, inoffensive retelling of the shrunken people story.
HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES runs only 1:15. It is rated PG probably for the cockroach's sneer. The show would be fine for all ages although the younger ones may be scared by the two minute cockroach scene. My son Jeffrey, age 8, thought the show was "great." I've seen it all before so I cannot recommend it. It is worth ** for the cute scientific gadgets.
**** = A must see film. *** = Excellent show. Look for it. ** = Average movie. Kind of enjoyable. * = Poor show. Don't waste your money. 0 = Totally and painfully unbearable picture.
REVIEW WRITTEN ON: June 27, 1997
Opinions expressed are mine and not meant to reflect my employer's.
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