Monday, April 11, 2016

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

Utterly charming live-action Disney comedy was the directorial debut of visual effects wizard Joe Johnston, who went on to make many more fun adventures, including THE ROCKETEER and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS had the misfortune of opening opposite BATMAN, but it played through the summer and fall of 1989 to strong box office—strong enough to spawn two sequels and a syndicated TV series.

The daughter and son of befuddled inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) and two brothers living next door are accidentally shrunken to the size of ants and trapped in the Szalinskis’ suburban backyard. Among the dangers for Amy (Amy O’Neill) and Nick Szalinski (Robert Oliveri) and Ron (Jared Rushton) and Russ (Thomas Brown) Thompson as they make their way back to the house are giant bees, water streams the size of rivers, and blades of grass like skyscrapers. Even Cheerios are threatening, but a friendly ant (a combination of stop-motion and lifesize animatronics) lends much-needed aid.

Moranis (GHOSTBUSTERS) and Matt Frewer (MAX HEADROOM) handle the slapstick with Marcia Strassman (WELCOME BACK, KOTTER) and Kristine Sutherland (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) providing game support. The real stars, of course, are the special effects and the imaginative sets built at Churubusco Studios in Mexico City. Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR), Brian Yuzna, and Ed Naha developed the story (then called TEENIE WEENIES) as a follow-up to Gordon’s DOLLS (which Naha wrote), but Disney ended up pushing them out in favor of Johnston and writer Tom Schulman (an Oscar winner for DEAD POETS SOCIETY.

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