a critiQal film review Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: A preoccupied inventor (Moranis) just can't seem to get his electro-magnetic shrinking machine to work. Then, when his machine accidentally shrinks his kids down to one-quarter-inch tall and tosses them out in the trash, the real adventure begins! Now the kids face incredible dangers as they try to make their way home through the jungle of their own backyard!

631 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 9s)

While perusing NetFlix® for this week’s retro review, I stumbled across a movie I hadn’t seen in ages: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. A family comedy adventure about kids shrunk to a tenth the size of an ant, I had (somewhat) fond memories of this cheesy romp. But, with all the special effects needed for such a movie, would time have ravaged this film beyond all repair? Or was it still a fun, tiny adventure?

Rick Moranis takes the lead in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with his usual bumbling charm. While not quite up to his goofy performance in 80’s blockbuster Ghostbusters (1984), he’s still a quirky yet likeable nerd. His wife, played by Marcia Strassman, puts up with him, and you can see an affection there, even if she doesn’t seem to really know why.

The neighbor couple, played by Matt Frewer (“Max Headroom” (TV)) and Kristine Sutherland (Buffy’s mom in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV)), however, leave Marcia in their dust and very nearly outshine Rick himself. Frewer, especially, has a goofy comedy genius of his own, and he very nearly steals the spotlight right out from under the bumbling Rick.

While the adults do their best to try to outdo each other, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is mainly focused on the adventures of the kids. Shrunk down to ultra-tiny, these 4 relative unknowns (of whom, only Jared Rushton has gone on to do much of anything, and he can only boast one other co-starring role, in Big) try what they can. Sadly, with little to no acting prowess among them, they flounder their way through the film, and viewers will be happy the special effects will distract from their performances.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids has an inventive plot. While they may have done it to death with the mass-produced plethora of sequels they spewed out, in this, the original film, it still seems fresh. Shrinking the characters down to a tiny size and presenting their own house and backyard as sudden obstacles? There seems to be no end to the adventures that can be had. While the focus of the film relies a bit too much on the insects of their backyard (bees, ants and a scorpion), some of the best sequences are when they run into obstacles that aren’t living, ie. the lawnmower or the sprinkler system. The sprinkler system sequence, especially, is great fun, and aren’t marred by outdated special effects, unlike some of the other sequences.

In hindsight, the makers of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids should have relied more on non-living threats like the sprinkler system, because it’s the bee, ant and the scorpion that are showing the most scarring from the passage of time. The stop-motion animation used in the film is primitive, and these living creatures highlight this the most. Looking like nothing more than the painted poseable creations they are, they showcase a conglomeration of the worst effects of the film. From their unrealistic coloring to their stilted movements, these are the biggest drawbacks of what is a pretty entertaining film. They make it hard for the viewer to continue to suspend their disbelief, and really detract from the film overall.

While the kids are definitely not thespians, and the living creatures they encounter on their journey are a joke, Rick and Matt help provide some much needed comic relief, and the kids’ tiny adventure through the backyard is still worth checking out. Sure, it’s a bit cheesy, and don’t try to wrap your head around the joke science they use, but as a family-friendly film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids really isn’t that bad.

Just groan and get past the stop-motion insects, and you can still find something in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids that makes it worth watching even now.

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