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This is a fun movie for the entire family. Well, of course, it's
ridiculous but the kids will love it and you can laugh right along with
The absurd tale revolves around around a nutty scientist & dad named Wayne Szalinski who is working on a machine to miniaturize objects. When his two kids plus their two neighbouring friends (the Thompsons) wander into his lab, Wayne inadvertently shrinks the four of them. Then he accidentally tosses them out in the garbage, so the poor kids have to brave the dangers of the lawn to get back to the house. And can the well intended but crazy scientist figure out how to bring the youngsters back to full size again? (Personally, my favourite aspect of the movie is the nutty father.)
The story has plenty of adventure and danger as the teensy weensy younguns brave the perils of the jungle (actually their lawn). They face thunderstorm like risks of potentially drowning in the lawn sprinkler or being attacked by giant ants, bees, & other bugs. Not to mention the lawn mower!
Avoid the TV series of the same name, but this movie has some good family messages involving the two sets of parents (the Szalinskis & the Thompsons) as well as the kids. And of course there's lots of hilarity and adventure. It should be rated higher than it is and fully deserved its popularity at the time. This film put the phrase 'Honey, I shrunk (or whatever) the kids' into people's everyday vocabulary!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the 'grammar' of western cinema, a continuum situation is
established in the first reel, and an event intrudes upon that situation,
thus launching the story. In this film the intervening event is a baseball
crashing through a neighbourhood window. This being Disney, the context is
an idealised suburban America, a world of neat lawns and plaid shirts,
baseball mits and tall refrigerators, skateboards and electric
The Disney Corporation is revisiting the territory of "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961). An eccentric scientist, working on experiments in his own home, is on the verge of a major research breakthrough. His discovery surprises him when it happens, and it disrupts the laws of the physical universe, causing havoc in the micro-universe of New England clapboard houses where he lives. In an overt reference to the earlier movie, there is even a character called Brainard in this one.
Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is a misunderstood genius. Scoffed at by academics and despised by his next-door neighbour Russ Thompson, Wayne perseveres with his research into a raygun which can shrink physical objects in size. After a disheartening morning's work, Wayne leaves the house and forgets to switch off his shrinking-machine, which continues idling in the attic.
The Szalinski kids, Amy and Nick, are helping with the household chores. Amy is an attractive teenage girl and Nick is a chip off the old block - a geeky egghead with thick glasses, just like his dad.
Next door, the Thompsons are the archetype of American domesticity. Russ Senior is a baseball-capped lover of fishing trips and his wife Mae is a pleasant if unremarkable mom. Russ Junior has just been cut from the school football team, much to dad's chagrin, and is an uneasy teenager trying to work out what he wants. His kid brother Ronnie is an unself-conscious all-American rascal. In contrast to the Szalinskis, the Thompsons are resoundingly non-intellectual.
It is Ronnie's baseball which smashes through the Szalinskis' attic window and activates the shrinking-ray. The rest of the film is the tale of the four shrunken kids' odyssey from the garbage bag to safety, across the wild continental heartland of the Szalinskis' back yard.
There are plenty of good visual jokes in the film, as when Amy realises that she has 'spun' herself into a knot with the phone flex, or the giant-size dead fly that the kids pass as they cross the attic floor, or Wayne's colossal face looming over the kids in the garden. Moranis, expert farceur that he is, plays Wayne with consummate skill, enlivening a routine movie with nice acrobatic clownage.
The one central gag of the film, the oversize world in which the kids find themselves, is pulled off with aplomb. Giant insects, cigarette butts, screws and wormholes create the film's own internal logic which actually works, in spite of the ludicrous premiss of the story. The animation (as one would expect of Disney) is superb. The bee flight sequence is masterly, and the fight between the ant and the scorpion very effective.
Because this is a children's film, the animals have to be given endearing anthropomorphic traits. Quark, the Szalinskis' dog, is as much a character in the story as the humans are. "Anty", the baby ant who befriends the shrunken kids, behaves far more like a pet mammal than an insect, capable of exhibiting emotions such as sadness and loyalty.
And the human interactions are certainly not neglected. While the younger brothers Nick and Ronnie are out-and-out children, the teenagers have a different vantage point, and this is handled sensitively. The Szalinskis and the Thompsons each grow stronger as a family as a result of this ordeal, and the awkwardness between the two households is replaced by closeness and affection. Everyone is a better person by the end. Shrinking has helped them to grow.
Some interesting dualities are woven into the texture of the story. The Szalinski lawn, that ultimate symbol of suburban tameness, becomes a frightening jungle to the children. The scorpion is Creation's aggressive, predatory pole, the ant is the co-operative, altruistic side of our nature.
Nobody makes comedy-adventure nonsense better than Disney, and this is one of the corporation's triumphs.
My Take: A fine family entertainment with some neat special effects.
I grew up watching and enjoying this funny, fast-paced fantasy adventure. But when I watched it back then, I always seemed to start it on the part with the scorpion and the ant, so I only watch a few parts. But I finally found it on DVD and watched it from the beginning. And I really enjoyed it. It's really a fantastic fantasy, with elaborate special-effects and lavish "enlarged" sets.
The film is quite like the fantasy films filmmaker Steven Spielberg produced, like "Back to the Future" and "Innerspace" for instance. It depicts the adventures of average people, thrust into an adventure of a lifetime, and then must find away to get back safely. That's kinda like the premise of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", a group of neighborhood kids get shrunk to size by a weird machine crazy inventor Rick Moranis invented. Disney triumphs in creating an enjoyable fantasy that's sure to be a charm. The stop-motion effects are still impressive, even if special effects in the 80's have certainly moved on. It's one of the best live-action Disney efforts and a fine fun for the entire family.
This film is followed by a sequel "Honey, I Blew up the Kid", which is not quite as zany and imaginative as its predecessor.
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5.
"Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" is a quite unusual adventure/comedy film,
one of the most eccentric movies of all time. It's one of those
live-actions films produced by Disney's studios.
The movie's title refers to Wayne Szalinski, a stereotypical nutty/mad scientist. He invents a machine with the ability of shrinking objects to a size even smaller than ants. This character is portrayed by Rick Moranis, the perfect actor for a role like this (with his intellectual looks).
Rick Moranis is funny as Wayne Szalinski, Matt Frewer is hilarious as the impatient and temperamental "Big" Russell Thompson. The kids also do a good job: Thomas Wilson Brown as the clever "Little" Russell Thompson, Jared Rushton as the paranoid Ron Thompson and Robert Oliveri as the nerd Nick Szalinski. One of the funniest parts for me is when "little" Russell forces his brother Ron to confess that he broke Szalinski's window with his baseball.
The Szalinski kids (Nick and Amy) and the Thompson kids ("Little" Russell and Ron, the Szalinski's neighbors) are accidentally shrunk by the machine and thrown into the garbage by accident. Because they are so tiny, they live a big adventure full of dangers and nightmares (from insects to a remote-controlled lawn mower) until reaching their house, something which would only take seconds on their normal size.
The story becomes a bit odd and of a somehow discussable taste, but it also makes the difference... for good and for bad. However, I must be fair: at least this is a thousand times better than those stupid "Problem Child" movies. Not that they have anything in common, but...
Overall, nothing extraordinary, but amusing, hilarious, great fun, entertaining, original, bizarre and with some funny lines («French class» is just one among many others). There's also a certain 80's charm on it.
The success of this movie inspired a very imaginative 3D film created as an amusement for Disneyland parks around the world called "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience".
Leave it to Disney to give us a friendly mad scientist in the form of Rick
Moranis, who plays an affable, amiable absent minded professor family man
name of Wayne who's latest invention, kept in the attic, is designed to
shrink things down. Alas, he's not having much luck with it, as his
test subject, an apple, gets blown up. Later, one of his neighbor's sons,
Ron, hits a baseball through Wayne's window while he's out at giving a
science presentation and when Ron's older brother Russ sends him to fetch
with Wayne's son Nick they get shrunk thanks to the baseball whacking the
machine. When Russ goes up with Nick's older sister Amy they get shrunk
along with a chair and Wayne's thinking couch. Unfortunately, a frustrated
Wayne, unaware of what's happened, comes home and demolishes his machine
accidentally throws out his kids and his neighbor's (Matt Frewer of TV's
Headrome fame) with the garbage. It is not until Wayne starts cleaning up
the attic that he discovers the shrunken couch and chair (which he steps
and realizes that his missing kids were shrunk by it and that he threw
out with the trash. So while Wayne embarks on a series of unsuccessful
attempts to find his kids without stepping on them, the kids must make a
dangerous trek through the uncut back yard, encountering "giant" toys,
bees, ants, lawnmowers and, strangely enough, a scorpion (someone's
Good fun, and a lot less cynical than a lot of today's youth oriented adventure films. And of course, the message of family values and how it's important for dads to understand their kids in addition to spending time with them, is also present, but never overly preachy.
Absent-minded genius Moranis accidentally shrinks his kids to microscopic size and they end up in the yard. At their size, they must fight dangerous creatures like ants and bees and menacing household items like a lawnmower and a garden hose before they can traverse back to the house and hope to be restored to normal size. Amusing Disney comedy is fun for the whole family. The special effects are pretty good as simple household objects are shown as humongous from the perspective of the kids. Moranis is likable as the mad inventor and Strassman is cute as his wife. The young actors don't try to be too cute and Frewer is funny as the neighbor whose son has also been shrunk.
Being a somewhat big fan of Rick Moranis, I had high expectations when
I first saw this movie. I must say, I was not disappointed. The acting
***Spoilers*** Wayne Szalinski (Moranis) is a nutty scientist who invents strange things. One invention, a shrinking machine, just makes things blow up. At first. Then, a next door neighbor, Ron Thomson, (Jared Rushton) hits a baseball in Wayne Szalinski's lab- in the attic.
Soon, four kids are the size of a grain of sand. Only a quarter inch tall, they make their way home. They have many adventures in the backyard, which is a jungle to them. The adventures include encounters with swarming bees, an ant, a lawn mower, and much more.
After a near misadventure with a bowl of cereal, the kids are found. Wayne fixes his machine, and the kids are enlarged back to normal size.
Later, both the Thomson's and Szalinski's are in the kitchen. On the table is a turkey the size of a piano.
This is a well-made movie. It may be a little scary for some younger kids, but it is well worth watching more than once.
My Score: 8/10
Basically this one great and fun adventure movie, for kids especially.
It's a Disney movie, so it's most definitely kid orientated, which
means that it doesn't have the most complicated script, drawn out
characters, or other mind boggling elements but it more than serves its
What is the most appealing aspect of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" are its adventures elements. It was a great move to let the movie for most part be set in the backyard of an ordinary house, of a not so ordinary family. The shrunken kids have to overcome all sorts of dangers in the backyard, such as 'giant' insects, water drops, muddy rivers, lawnmowers and of course avoid being squashed by humans. A new adventure and obstacle awaits at every corner, which makes sure that there is always something happening in the movie and makes things flow well.
The movie is perhaps more adventurous and fun than really funny. The most comical aspects of the movie mostly come from the adult cast, from actors such as Rick Moranis and Marcia Strassman as the parents and Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland as the neighbors. They mostly make sure that the movie is a perfectly enough watchable and entertaining one for adults. Rick Moranis of course suits the role very well as a nutty scientist. He is perhaps also known best for his roles in the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"-movies than any other one.
The movie is well made and Joe Johnston shows himself again a capable director. I have always liked him as a director. He never made any really great movies but his movies are always entertaining, which always make a Joe Johnston movie a pleasant one to watch. This movie was his directorial debut and he could had done a lot worse.
The movie has some good effects, also especially considering the time it got made. The movie uses all kinds of effects. Mostly of course consisting out of over-sized sets and objects but also stop-motion effects, mechanical effects and some early special effects. Especially the over-sized objects aren't really convincing looking and are obviously made out of light and non-nature materials but I don't know, this seemed sort of right and a suiting style for a kids movie such as this one. The musical score by James Horner is also a perfectly fine one.
About as good and entertaining as a kid's movie can get, though there is also plenty left to enjoy for adults.
I rememeber seeing this film in summer 1989 in the movie theater when I was still in elementary school. On the big screen the FX are so cool! They don't translate as well on the small screen, though. It's also funny to see the Matt Frewer character making pot shots at Rick Moranis's character. The shrunken kids' adventure to cross the yard is also cool. The Roger Rabbit short "Tummy Trouble" before the start of the film is an added bonus! Great Disney fun!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When it comes to Disney films, I normally find them trite and mawkish.
There are only a handful of them I can watch. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
is one of them. Its a film of tremendous assurance and confidence. And
a terrific directorial debut from Joe Johnston.
Inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis), is one of those inventors you would find in a Rube Goldberg cartoon. In other words, he makes inventions that are supposed to run like clockwork, and half the time they usually don't.
His latest invention is a machine that shrinks things down. But he hasn't figured out how to get it to work properly. When the Szalinski's neighbours, the Thompsons, accidentally break their attic window with a baseball, it activates the machine, and absorbs some of its power. Suddenly, the machine starts shrinking things, including the Szalinski's kids Amy and Nick, and the Thompson kids, Russ and Ron.
Wayne unwittingly sweeps up the kids and puts the rubbish bag in the back garden. So begins the kids odyssey of trying to get back home through the jungle of their own garden. It is an uphill struggle to say the least, with the kids having to contend with dive-bombing bumblebees, killer scorpions, and runaway lawn mowers.
I love the way Joe Johnston applies the connotation of a jungle to the Szalinski's overgrown garden. The blades of grass now resemble a rainforest, water sprinklers are like a thunderstorm to the kids, and the ants, bees and scorpions they encounter are like the local wildlife. This film is a great deal more clever and inventive than most Disney films.
Its just one adventure after another, with our four heroes just trying to survive, and the adults trying to find a way to restore them to normal. Rick Moranis is likable enough as the befuddled scientist trying to straighten out the mess he's made. Marcia Strassman is great too as his wife, who has a nice chemistry with Rick Moranis.
Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland add good support as the Thompsons. Matt Frewer gives one of his more endearing performances, and he's quite comical when he seems more interested in the state of the Szalinski's lawn then his own children. He is like one of those fathers out of a Jean Shepard novel, i.e. frequent camping trips, sticking to schedules, no understanding of his children at all, etc. Kristine Sutherland would eventually go on to find fame as Joyce Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The film is refreshingly clear of the over-sentimentality common with most Disney films. The only time when it does feel trite is when the kids befriend a baby ant, and it ends up being killed by a scorpion. I did think that was a bit unlikely that a scorpion would be in their garden, but that's only a minor fault. The fight between the scorpion and the ant is well done, and is fairly reminiscent of classic sci-fi creature films.
There are many memorable scenes such as Nick and Russ riding a bee, the aforementioned ant-scorpion fight, and the kids caught in the middle of a storm caused by sprinklers. And who could forget the blackly humorous moment when Wayne almost devours Nick inside of his own breakfast cereal. Bit sadistic that for a Disney film!
There's a nice sense of camaraderie and teamwork from the kids and the adults. I never get tired of this film. Its far superior to the sequels, consistently entertaining, fun, and quite lively too. Roger Ebert thought it had no fun, which just isn't true. Fortunately, he was proved wrong. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was a huge success, grossing over 150 million dollars at the box office.
A hugely enjoyable film, and one that both kids and adults can get a kick out of.
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