Thursday, 17 February 2011

80s Movies: Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

I won't lie - the end of the 80s was a tragic event in my life. I was 7, and just starting a bigger school, which was really the start of feeling like a social pariah. Harsh times for a little person. Luckily for me, I hadn't been shrunk to a microscopic size and hurled into the jungle of my own back yard, like the young cast of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

Parents Rick Moranis and Marcia Strassman as Wayne and Diane Szalinski play a central role, holding things together in the big world, but the real action is with the little people in what is, at its core, a fairly epic adventure movie. Let's take a moment to appreciate the four child stars: Robert Oliveri (Nick Szalinski), Amy O'Neill (Amy Szalinski), Jared Rushton (Ron Thompson) and Thomas Wilson Brown (Russ Thompson).

The Plot

It's an affectionate spin on a familiar tale - Moranis plays a hapless inventor who's really not very good. None of his machines quite work - and tend to go catastrophically wrong when he tests them. There's a certain irony to be found in the fact that his shrinking ray 'goes wrong' by accidentally working, when a misfired baseball blocks part of its laser and results in just the right amount of shrinking energy hitting the kids, as opposed to there being enough to explode them.

As I said, this is basically an adventure movie, so much of the storyline is irrelevant to the wider plot, and simply involves a sequence of events the kids have to endure in their trek across the garden and back to the house. There's some pretty decent massive-set work and special effects, in part thanks to the fact that this was the end of the 80s and FX had progressed pretty nicely over the course of the decade. The story isn't 100% happy, either, but overall it's a generally uplifting family film that should be suitable for youngsters.

The Sequels

I haven't focused too much on sequels in earlier 80s movies posts, but I'd like to mention the follow-ups to Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Honey, I Blew Up The Kid came along in 1992 - not so long after the first film, to be fair. I remember disliking it the first time I saw it, but I have no idea why. It's different enough not to feel like a rehash of Shrunk, and has the iconic moment of Las Vegas' casino lights being switched off all along the Strip - the first time it had ever been done.

Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves went straight to video in 1997, with Rick Moranis back as Wayne but otherwise new characters. I haven't seen it so I can't really judge, but I may well check it out having heard it stars Mila Kunis and Allison Mack, who are both as lovely as they are talented.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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