Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Directed by: Joe Johnston (1)

Cast: Rick Moranis (2), Marcia Strassman (3), Matt Frewer (4), Robert Oliveri (5), Kristine Sutherland, Amy O’Neill, Thomas Wilson Brown, and Jared Rushton

(Watch the trailer)

My favourite quote – “I’ll tell you, their size, that backyard is like 10 miles. Giant blades of grass, huge insects, it’s a jungle out there.”

Right after finishing my post on scale, a much beloved film of mine came to mind. After all, I did say the climbers looked like ants in that post. And so I thought of the larger than human sized ant in the film Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

Oh the memories. I loved the film. Still do actually. In this day and age where CGI is so rampant and so realistic, kids today might watch Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and think nothing of the special effects that were probably top of the range then. But I think it’s wonderful.

I actually saw the huge electronically controlled ants and bees in person during a trip to Disney World. And did you know that scale models were used for the bee scene, with miniature Russ Jr. and Nick plastic figures attached to it. And to make the cookie look bigger, forced perspective was used. In fact, for the scene with the broom, the four young actors were strapped to pieces of foam that were carved and tied to a rig system to simulate the bristles of the broom! That must have been so fun!

But more than the fact that the film seemed so fun and such a huge adventure. I love the underlying message behind the film – family ties.

True Love – It’s All About Family

Wayne: Are you okay?
Diane: I’m scared. Somehow I feel like this is all our fault.
Wayne: No it’s my fault. I start working about something I don’t think about anything else. I should have been more careful with that thing. I’m sorry.
Diane: That’s not what I meant. You know it’s not important if I sell another house or if you get a grant this year or next. We just got to get this family back together.
Wayne: I feel the same way.

I like that Wayne and Diane Szalinski band together and work to find their children instead of fighting and playing the blame game. The big dirty ‘D’ word – divorce, seems to be the solution for a lot of couples. It’s nice to see a film where the realistic not-so-perfect-and-in-love couple tries to put aside their differences and work through their issues.

That said, I strongly feel that not all relationships are meant to work out. And both parties must want to work at saving the marriage or relationship.

Russ Sr: Hold it Szalinski! This gizmo’s been blowing up fruit. Now you’re not trying it on my kids until you try it on something living.
(Quark runs away scared)
Wayne: You know something, maybe I should do it on myself.
Diane: I don’t know. Are you sure?
Wayne: I’ll show you how to work the machine it’s not that hard…
Russ Sr: No. No. Do it on me.

Parents will do anything for their kids. And coming from a traditional Asian family, my dad and I don’t particularly have a close relationship. He’s the typical stern and tough love kind of Chinese dad. So I totally can relate to Russ Sr and Russ Jr’s tense relationship.

However, I learnt over time that my dad loves me. He just has a different way of showing it. He’d always gruffly tell me to eat more vegetables and fruits, or gruffly ask if I’ve eaten dinner when I come home late. But that’s his way of showing he cares.

And for Russ Sr, you know how much he loves his boys when he offers to be the human guinea pig. Way to go Russ Sr!

Parental Expectations

Russ Sr: Now what’s the matter with him?
Mae: Shhhh…
Russ Sr: What do you mean ‘shush’? I see nothing wrong for wanting to take my son fishing.
Mae: Russell I shouldn’t be telling you this but he was cut from the football team yesterday.
Russ Sr: What!?
Mae: Honey please! What he doesn’t need right now is to hear from you.
Russ Sr: He needs something. When I was his age I was Ca…
Mae: … Captain of the team.
Russ Sr: And if my father wanted me to go on a fishing trip I would have been…
Mae: … would have been grateful. Russ, he is too small for football.
Russ Sr: He is not too small for football.
Mae: Too small. Shhh… honey when you say things like that you make him feel about this big.
Russ Sr: If he wants to feel big, he should act big.

As I mentioned earlier, I can relate to Russ Jr. While my dad and mum aren’t pushy like Russ Sr, I would feel small and inadequate especially when I was compared to my much smarter cousins who scored more As and went to better schools. But I do get it. I get why they were so hard on me.

Amy: It’s funny. The moon looks the same size whether you’re big or small.
Russ Jr: Yeah, tell that to my dad.
Amy: Why? Does he pick on you about your size?
Russ Jr: The bigger the guy, the bigger the moon. It’s just the way he thinks.

My parents never got the chance to get a University education. They had to enter the working force at a young age. And they know how tough it is to get ahead in life if you don’t have a good education. So they pushed me to study hard and get good grades.

While I wasn’t forced like Russ Jr to be like his dad, my mum did try to get me to go into accounting, just like she did. But math isn’t my thing and I resisted.

Anyway, now that I’m a working adult who has had a better start in life because of my parents’ years of pushing to do better in school, I am eternally grateful.

Size Matters

Amy: I don’t think we’re in Kanas anymore Toto.
Nick: I don’t think we’re in the food chain anymore Dorothy.

Now back to the more literal theme of the film – Size and scale.

I love the fact that the film forces you to see things in an entirely different perspective. I watched this film when I was just a kid. I was actually only 8 or 9 years old when Honey, I Shrunk The Kids was released. Let’s just say it left a very big impression on me.

Nick: We’re now quarter of an inch tall and 64 feet from the house. That’s the equivalent of 3.2 miles. That’s a long way, even for a man of science.
Amy: Nick! I’ve got 6hrs to get home, get big, and get to the mall. Now get moving.
Nick: That butterfly had a wingspan of 42 feet.
Amy: Nick!

Giant bees, ants and even a scorpion! It was fun and adventurous yet somewhat terrifying at the same time. That huge cookie would have been so fun if it were real! I mean, it would be like the cottage made of sweets and candy in Hansel and Gretal! Except without the witch!

Amy: I’d die for a strawberry sundae, chocolate sprinkles and a banana split.
Ron: I can eat a corn dog the size of a truck.
Russ Jr: Ron if you had a corn dog, it would be the size of a truck.
Amy: I’ve died and gone to heaven.
Nick: It’s as big as a house.
Ron: I saw it first, its mine. I got dibs on the cream filling.
Amy: Nick it’s one of your cookies.

Instead, their first brush with danger was with a baby ant.

Ron: If only we have bug spray. That’ll show him.
Amy: Be quiet. To him we’re the bugs. If he finds us he’ll eat us. Let’s get out of here.
Ron: Wait a minute. It’s our cookie. I say we fight for it. Just one ant.
Russ Jr: When is the last time you saw just one ant? He’s a scout. The rest of them will be here any minute.
Nick: Wait. You ever see how fast ants go? We could ride him and get back to the house in no time.
Amy: Forget it Nick.
Nick: Amy, it can take us all. Ants can move 50 times their weight!
Ron: 50 times! That’s like bench pressing a bulldozer!
Amy: Yes. Now think of what he can do to us. Let’s go before he brings the rest of them.
Nick: But he can’t hurt us. He’s just a baby. Russ?
Russ Jr: I say that ant is ours.
Ron: Yeah!
Amy: Come on you guys.
Nick: Geronimo!

Till this day, I remember the interesting fact that ants can carry 50 times their weight. And it was because of this film. And I find it quite amazing how the filmmakers managed to get me to feel compassion for the ant.

The ant had no lines. But the noises he made and his body language spoke volumes. I also think that speaks volumes about the quality of the film.

That said. One thing I will probably never wrap my head around and accept was the fact that there was a scorpion in a suburban home’s backyard. Is that even possible!?

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids!

But other than the scorpion, I think the film is brilliant, hilarious, and heartwarming. A film that I will show my kids and grandchildren.

Diane: I called the police. What’s on your head?
Wayne: I was looking for the kids.
Diane: Where? In a coalmine?
Wayne: They’re in the backyard.
Diane: They are!?
Wayne: Diane! I got something real important to tell you. That is the coach from the attic. You can see the marks where Quark chewed the arms. I found it on the floor. It’s my thinking coach.
Diane: Wayne, are you trying to tell me? You did it? It works. The machine works! Do the kids know?
Wayne: Well, yeah the kids know.
Diane: That’s great!
Wayne: That’s not that great.
Diane: Why?
Wayne: I shrunk the kids.
Diane: What!?
Wayne: And the Thompson kids too. They’re about this big. They’re in the backyard.
Diane: What!
Wayne: Threw them out with the trash.
(The door bell rings)
Wayne: Stay here I’ll get the door. Yes?
Policewoman: Did you report some missing children?
Wayne: Oh there must be some mistake. Ours are in the backyard. Right honey?
(Diane faints)

(1) Joe Johnston has also directed films like SThe Rocketeer (1991), Jumanji (1995), October Sky (1999), Jurassic Park III (2001), Hidalgo (2004), The Wolfman (2010), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). He was also the art director for films like Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (1983), and Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom (1984).

(2) Rick Moranis has also acted in films like  Ghostbusters (1984), Spaceballs (1987), Ghostbusters II (1989), Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992), Little Giants (1994), The Flintstones (1994), and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997). He also voiced the character of Rutt in the animated films Brother Bear (2003) and Brother Bear 2 (2006).

(3) Marcia Strassman has also acted in films like The Aviator (1985), and Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992).

(4) Matt Frewer has also acted in films like Going the Distance (2004), Watchmen (2009), and 50/50 (2011). He’s also appeared in other series like Supernatural, Orphan Black, Witches of East End, and The Librarians.

(5) Robert Oliveri has also acted in films like Edward Scissorhands (1990), and Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992).

Final Thoughts:

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is a fun and lighthearted comedy that is perfect for the whole family. Remember that no matter how weird you think your neighbours are, they might be really cool people. And married couples, when you get frustrated with your partner, remember that at least he or she didn’t shrink your kids. I wonder if a machine like that will ever be invented, but if it does, we won’t ever have to worry about food. On that note, excuse me while I go hunt for a cookie. (4 of 5)

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2 responses to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

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