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HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS (1989)
Wayne Szalinski is the All-American nutty scientist who is recently working on a top-secret machine that will allegedly miniaturize objects. Though he has difficulty getting the machine to cooperate at first, when his children accidentally stumble upon their father's creation, they suddenly find themselves the first guinea pigs of Szalinski's creation; doomed to wander the jungles of their backyard lawn, many a battle with giant ants and other backyard bugs ensues in this crazy comedy.
Director Joe Johnston's "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" is a fun, FX filled Sci-Fi comedy romp.
The basic story involves a married, eccentric scientist, Wayne Szalinski working on a shrinking ray machine in the attic of the Szalinski family home. When his kids, Amy and Nick, as well as the neighbor boys, Russ Jr. and Ronnie, are accidentally zapped, they're shrunk to tiny sizes, ending up trapped in the "jungle" of the backyard. Amy and Russ Jr. are high school age, while Nick and Ronnie are in junior high.
Misunderstood genius Wayne Szalinski, who is scoffed at by his academic peers and despised by his next-door neighbor, Russ Thompson, has a frustrating morning doing research on his shrinking ray gun, that for some unknown reason, has a problem and won't work. Deciding to take a break, Wayne leaves the project, but forgets to turn off the ray machine. Ronnie Thompson, the athletic younger son of Russ Thompson Sr., accidentally hits a baseball through the attic window, hitting the ray machine, temporarily fixing the problem that was frustrating Wayne. The ray machine then goes amok, shrinking furniture as it moves around. Russ Thompson Jr. the older, unathletic brother of Ronnie, who has a crush on the popular Amie Szalinski, takes Ronnie over to the Szalinski's to fess up and get the ball back from Amie and Nick. Well, guess what happens when all four of the kids wind up in the attic?
After the kids are inadvertently shrunk, Wayne comes back to the attic, sees the glass mess made by the ball, and sweeps up the glass and the kids, which he dumps into trash bag, that he takes back to the garbage cans, way in the back yard.
Even though the Szalinski and the Thompson kids are very different from each other, they all have to work together and use the different abilities they each have to survive the physical dangers lurking in the backyard, both mechanical and living. They learn to appreciate and tolerate their differences, and learn about their own gifts & qualities that they didn't realize they had.
The disappearance of the Thompson boys forces Russ Sr. to examine his problems with his older son, Russ Jr., who displeased him immensely when cut from the football team, despite all the inspirational stories told by Russ Sr., on how he worked hard to get on the team in his day. Maybe it was OK that his son wasn't athletic and didn't enjoy the outdoors.
There are plenty of good visual jokes in the film. The biggest running gag is all the problems the kids face in such an oversized world. Also, check out Amie and the phone incident, and Wayne's colossal face looming over the kids, as he searches for them in a contraption that attaches to the clothes line, all which doesn't improve his image of being peculiar.
Rick Moranis was perfect for the part of Wayne, adding his comedic talent and skills, & nice "acrobatic clownage," all which make this movie sparkle with comedy.
Marcia Strassman offers fine, sympathetic support as Moranis' loving wife, who helps Rick look for the kids, and work with the Thompsons, despite their marital problems, which they work out by the end of the movie.
Kristine Sutherland and Matt Frewer offers humorous support as Moranis' neighbors.
Because this is a children and family film, the animals and insects are given human qualities. Quark, the Szalinskis' dog, is as much a character in the story as the people are, and saves the day several times. "Anty", the baby ant who becomes a friend and helps the shrunken kids, behaves like a loyal pet dog.
The Szalinskis and the Thompsons each grow stronger together as a family as a result of this strange, adventuresome, stressful experience. Furthermore, the distrust and misunderstanding between the two households is replaced by closeness and affection. Everyone is a better person by the end. The main theme of this great Disney movie is: "Shrinking has helped them to grow."
A favorite scene shows Moranis' shrunken young son, floating in Moranis' breakfast cereal and in imminent danger of being eaten by Moranis. The scene is fun and funny, with great FX: dig those jumbo sized cherrios.
The FX here are very well done, particularly the shrunken kids interacting with "giant" creatures in the back yard. The wild bee flight, with the boys along for the ride, is flawless, and the fight between the ant and the scorpion is very effective, and looks pretty real. Phil Tippett and David Allen are two of the responsible parties.
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