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After being exposed to a bizarre mixture of household chemicals, Pat Kramer begins to shrink. This baffles scientists, makes parenting difficult, warms the hearts of Americans, and captures the attention of a group of people who want to take over the world. This evil group plots to kidnap Pat and perform experiments on her so that they can eventually shrink everyone. Written by
Dave Smith <email@example.com>
Just go ahead and watch 9 to 5 again if you want to see Lily Tomlin in something funny depicting more realistic struggles of women. Here, she has to carry the entire load, and the results just aren't as satisfying. Tomlin plays a suburban housewife who suddenly begins to shrink, presumably from a combination of household chemicals and products that her husband's firm has marketed. The whole thing is symbolic for how women are somehow diminished by the world around them. Excessive commercialism, suburban sameness, housekeepers taking over duties of parents, etc... etc... etc. The whole concept ends up taking a backseat to sight gags involving Tomlin climbing around on expanded sets depicting household rooms and appliances. Some of these are quite interesting.
The film tries, but the message just isn't as sharp as we'd hope. Many characters also spend the majority of their screen time shouting and acting zany, and this doesn't help. Satire sometimes slips into madcap comedy when the director (this time Joel Schumacher) doesn't keep a tight enough hold on things. And I don't think I can buy this premise on an idealistic level. How does an increased variety of consumer goods diminish the role of a housewife? I think it might do just the opposite. She may now be empowered to find just the right things her family needs. Now I do certainly get the part about the Hispanic housekeeper taking over the role of mother. You look at this house, and it clearly doesn't seem big enough to need a housekeeper if the wife has no job. Was this a swipe at Californians who think having a maid/housekeeper is some sort of status symbol especially if they don't need one? Perhaps. Anyway, the film is loud and the production VERY much a sign of the early 1980s. Charles Grodin and Ned Beatty provide their usual solid support, and Tomlin does her best in multiple roles. The film just doesn't get its point across, and maybe it doesn't have a very good point to make in the first place. 5 of 10 stars.
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