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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Entry updated 5 April 2020. Tagged: Film, TV.

1. Film (1989). Walt Disney Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Doric Productions. Directed by Joe Johnston. Written by Ed Naha and Tom Schulman from a story by Stuart Gordon, Naha and Brian Yuzna. Cast includes Thomas Brown, Matt Frewer, Rick Moranis, Amy O'Neill, Robert Oliveri and Marcia Strassman. 93 minutes. Colour.

Eccentric inventor Wayne Szalinski (Moranis) builds a Miniaturization machine which is accidentally activated, shrinking his own two teenage children (O'Neill, Oliveri) and those of his macho next-door neighbour. Swept up in the trash they emerge in the garden, have adventures, escape a thunderburst (the sprinkler system), a giant ant and a lawnmower, fall tentatively in love (the two eldest), return, almost get eaten in a bowl of breakfast cereal, and are ultimately restored to full size. There is some timid metaphor about kids whose father and mother (Strassman) make them feel small, and about the jungle of suburbia – in this case the untidy lawn literally becomes a jungle – but it is far from being as disturbing a film as The Incredible Shrinking Man. Nevertheless the special effects sequences are well done and the film is fun. Stuart Gordon had been slotted to direct his original story, but illness forced his withdrawal.

The novelization is Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) by B B Hiller and Neil W Hiller; the sequel (2 below) is Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992). [PN/DRL]

2. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid Film (1992). Walt Disney. Directed by Randal Kleiser. Executive producers Albert Band and Stuart Gordon. Written by Thom Eberhardt, Peter Elbling, Garry Goodrow, based on a story by Goodrow, based on characters created by Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Ed Naha. Cast includes Lloyd Bridges, Rick Moranis, Robert Oliveri, Keri Russell, Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, John Shea and Marcia Strassman. 89 minutes. Colour.

The sequel to the good and successful 1 above, this has the same family, headed by nutty inventor Wayne Szalinski (Moranis), in more trouble. Or the same trouble reversed. Two-year-old son Adam (played with some charm by the Shalikar twins) is accidentally subjected to a growth ray (see Great and Small); he grows first to seven feet, then to 14 feet, then to 50 feet. Soon he has a tantrum, and is on his way to trample Las Vegas. Depressingly formulaic and one-note, though with several funny moments, the film has nothing like the metaphoric and psychological resonance of its predecessor, and its larger budget seems to have persuaded all concerned to be too careful – notably Moranis, who tones down the Mad Scientist madness almost as if he expects to be taken as a role model for good fatherhood. The contrast between original and sequel suggests a case of small is beautiful rather than bigger is better. The film, perhaps grudgingly, gives a credit – buried in the end titles – to Kit Reed, whose "The Attack of the Giant Baby" (January 1976 F&SF) could be said to have got there first.

The novelization is Honey, I Blew up the Kid (1992) by Todd Strasser. [PN/DRL]

3. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show US tv series (1997-2000). Plymouth Productions/St Clare Entertainment/Buena Vista Television. Syndicated. Produced by Ed Ferra, Jonathan Hackett, others. Created by Ferra and Kevin Murphy based on characters created by Stuart Gordon, Ed Naha, and Brian Yuzna. Directors include Francis Damburger, Tony Dow, Scott McGinnis. Writers include Ferra, Jim Lincoln, Murphy, Naha, and Joe Reinkemeyer. Cast includes George Buza, Thomas Dekker, Peter Scolari, Hillary Tucker and Barbara Alyn Woods. 66 45-minute episodes. Colour.

Eccentric Wayne Szalinski (Scolari) continues to develop various Inventions which lead his family into numerous bizarre adventures. Wife Diane Szalinski (Woods) and their two children Amy Szalinski (Tuck), and Nick Szalinski (Dekker) are constantly being caught-up in these escapades which include Time Travel, meetings with Aliens and with strange creatures such as a family of Bigfoot (see Apes as Human), and so forth. As he happens to live next door to them, Police Chief Jake McKenna (Buza) frequently finds himself involved with the family's adventures. A quasi-sequel to the two theatrical releases [see 1 and 2 above], this series continued its predecessors' light tone for the first two seasons, though with a sharper tongue. The third season saw the introduction of darker themes which sometimes involved the supernatural, including at least one raising of the dead. This turn did not seem popular with viewers; ratings dropped sharply, and the programme was cancelled with little fanfare. [GSt]

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