Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Honey I Shrunk the kids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joe Johnston
Produced by Penney Finkelman Cox
Screenplay by Ed Naha
Tom Schulman
Story by Stuart Gordon
Brian Yuzna
Ed Naha
Starring Rick Moranis
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Hiro Narita
Edited by Michael A. Stevenson
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • June 23, 1989 (1989-06-23)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million
Box office $222,724,172[1]

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 science fiction family film. The directorial debut of Joe Johnston and produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it tells the story of an inventor who accidentally shrinks his and his neighbor's kids to ¼ of an inch with his electromagnetic shrink ray and throws them out into the backyard with the trash.

Rick Moranis stars as Wayne Szalinski, the inventor who accidentally shrinks his children, Amy (Amy O'Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri). Marcia Strassman portrays his wife, Diane, to whom he delivers the titular line. Matt Frewer, Kristine Sutherland, Thomas Wilson Brown and Jared Rushton star as Russ, Mae, Russ Jr., and Ron Thompson, the Szalinskis' next door neighbors.

The film became an unexpected box office success, grossing in excess of $222 million worldwide, and became the highest-grossing live action Disney film ever, a record it held for five years. It was met with positive reviews from both critics and audiences, who praised the story, visuals and innovation. Its success spawned two sequels Honey, I Blew Up the Kid in 1992 and Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves in 1997, which both received mixed to negative critical reception, as well as leading to the creation of a TV show that ran from 1997 to 2000.

Plot[edit]

Eccentric inventor Wayne Szalinski strives to perfect a ray supposedly capable of shrinking objects by removing the molecules of space within them, his invention consistently fails though, instead causing objects (apples as his test) to explode. He also has to care for his two children, teenaged Amy and genius preteen Nick, while his wife, Diane, is spending time away from home after an argument the night before. Amy is charged with cleaning the house while Nick is asked to mow the lawn, which he makes a deal with his friend, Tommy Pervis, to do it later on that day. Next door, Russ Thompson and his wife, Mae, are planning a fishing trip with their sons, the enthusiastic, bullying Ron and the uninterested teen Russ Jr., who is secretly infatuated with Amy. After Wayne goes to a conference at work, Ron accidentally hits a baseball through the attic window, which activates the shrink ray and blocks a laser, allowing the machine to function properly. Amy sends Ron and Nick up to the attic to retrieve the ball, but they are inadvertently shrunk by the machine. When they go up to investigate, Amy and Russ Jr. are shrunk as well. Now 1/4 of an inch tall, Wayne is unable to hear their cries for help when he returns home, and out of frustration from being mocked for his invention, he destroys it. He then sweeps the parts and the children up and puts them out with the garbage. Estimating a 3 mile hike back to the house, they begin a slow journey back.

Diane returns home from work but she and Wayne soon become concerned when Nick and Amy don't do so. Next door, Russ and Mae have to cancel their fishing trip when Ron and Russ Jr. are nowhere to be found. After Wayne is swarmed by a bee that Nick and Russ Jr. had accidentally been made passengers of, he realizes the predicament and begins to find ways of systematically searching the yard for the kids. Meanwhile, Russ Jr. and Nick, having been separated from Ron and Amy due to the bee attack, try to find each other, but are distracted when Wayne's attempts to find them accidentally lead him to turning on the sprinklers. Amy is nearly killed when a huge drop of water sends her into a pool of mud. Russ Jr. saves her life by giving her CPR. They later find one of Nick's Oatmeal Creame Pie cookies and start to eat it, but their meal is interrupted by an ant, which they then tame to carry them back to the house. As it grows dark, they try to let him go, but he, dubbed Antie by Ron, has developed an attachment to him and follows them anyway. Using a cigarette flicked into the Szalinski yard by a worried Russ, the kids are now able to move about in the dark. Meanwhile, Diane and Wayne attempt to explain the situation to the Thompsons. While Mae seems receptive to the possibility, Russ storms out of the house, but it becomes apparent that they are worried. Finding a Lego, Nick, Ron and Amy take up space within it for safety to sleep while Ron stays on the ground. He and Amy confide in their feelings for each other and kiss, but soon a scorpion interrupts them and everyone but Ron gets away. Hearing his cries for help, Antie attacks the scorpion and is injured. After fighting the scorpion back, the kids find Antie who dies from his injuries, crushing Ron.

The next morning, Tommy Pervis returns and activates the lawn mower which is remote controlled. The kids run from the whirling blades and seek shelter in an earthworm burrow. Diane and Wayne stop Tommy from mowing and the blades fall right over the burrow nearly sucking the kids out into them. As the parents stop the mower, the kids narrowly avoid being obliterated by the blades and land only a foot or so from the back door. Their cries still fail to get their parents' attention and they begin to despair until the family dog, Quark, finds them. They hitch a ride on him, who runs inside to get Wayne's attention, but Nick loses his grip and falls into his father's bowl of Cheerios. When Wayne nearly devours Nick, his screams prompt Quark to bite Wayne's ankle, revealing their presence to their parents. In the attic, Wayne realizes that the baseball blocking the laser was what caused the machine to work. Russ volunteers to test the shrink ray, which is successful, and the kids are finally restored to their original size.

Months later, at Thanksgiving, the Thompsons and the Szalinskis have become close friends as they toast over a turkey enlarged by the shrink ray. Russ Jr. and Amy have begun dating while Nick and Ron have become friends. As they carve the turkey, Quark eats an enormous milkbone and Nick interrupts the closing credits, finally understanding a joke Russ Jr. told him earlier about having learned CPR in French class and he laughs.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The project was originally brought to Disney Studios by Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna. Gordon was hired to direct the film and Yuzna to produce. The film was written as Teeny Weenies by Stuart Gordon, Ed Naha, and Brian Yuzna. Tom Schulman was later added as a screenwriters. Gordon originally prepped the film but had to drop out as director shortly before filming began due to illness. Joe Johnston was brought in to replace him.

As Teeny Weenies seemed to appeal more to a child demographic, the name was changed to Grounded to appeal to a more mature audience. That name was later rejected in favour of The Big Backyard. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a line of dialogue from the film, ultimately became its title.

The film was heavily influenced by '50s fare such as The Incredible Shrinking Man.[2]

Casting[edit]

Judy Taylor, Mike Fenton, and Lynda Gordon were the casting directors. Before Rick Moranis was cast as "nutty" inventor Wayne Szalinski, the script was written with Chevy Chase in mind because of his popularity in National Lampoon's Vacation. Chase was filming the second sequel, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and was too busy to portray Szalinski.

John Candy was also considered for the role. He declined, but suggested to director Joe Johnston that his friend, (and Spaceballs costar) Rick Moranis, would be a good choice. Marcia Strassman portrays Wayne's wife, Diane, who is having marital troubles with her husband.

Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland portray Russ and Mae Thompson, the Szalinskis' next door neighbors and parents of Russ Jr. and Ron. Russ is very demanding of Russ Jr. and can't understand why he isn't more interested in masculine things such as football and fishing (until the end of the film, when he learns to accept his son for who he is). He is dim-witted and clumsy and secretly takes to cigarettes when he is nervous or scared. On the other hand, Mae is a very nice person and friendly with the Szalinskis.

The film needed four teenagers to play the leads. Russ Jr., portrayed by Thomas Wilson Brown seems to be interested in Amy, and less in football, while Ron, Jared Rushton, appears to be more straightforward and a bully toward neighbor Nick, though he warms towards him. Rushton has quoted that he took the role after thinking that the script was "appealing" and he thought his character had progressed throughout the film with his personality.

Amy O'Neill and Robert Oliveri were cast as Amy and Nick Szalinski, the children of Wayne and Diane. Oliveri commented that he was in awe about watching his stunt double do his stunts. He later starred as Kevin in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. O'Neill thought the film was a fun experience and that doing off-set activities, such as swimming or playing cards, was fun to do with the other younger cast members. She accepted the role because it was a "Disney movie".[3]

Direction[edit]

Joe Johnston was selected to direct the film for his directorial debut, having been mostly working on films as an effects illustrator and art director. The movie was filmed at the backlot of Churubusco Studios in Mexico City. Principal photography for this movie ran from January 20, 1988 to August 1988. Greg Fonseca was the production designer and was in charge of managing several different sets for the scenes in the movie.

Some filming took place in and around Beverly Hills, California. In the scene where Diane walks out of the mall to the pay phone, a sign says 'Beverly Hills Mall'. It is unclear if the whole film takes place there or just that scene, as this contradicts one assertion in the sequel that Wayne Szalinski was originally from, and thus the Szalinski residence depicted in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is in Fresno, California.

Special effects were heavily used for the film, such as the electronically controlled ants and bees. For the most part, the production team tried to use practical effects that would work in camera. For the scene where Wayne lands in the Thompsons' pool, Moranis jumped off a flying board in the form of a teeter-totter on a swing set. A stuntman pushed the board, sending him flying through the air and landing on a mat.[4] Numerous storyboards were used for the film, particularly in the water sprinklers scene and the scene involving the bee.[2] Scale models were also used for the bee scene, with miniature Russ and Nick plastic figures attached. Forced perspective was used in the giant cookie scene, to make it seem bigger.[2] The child actors were strapped in for the scene with the broom. The bristles were actually pieces of foam that were carved and tied to a rig system.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film opened on June 23, 1989, in 1,498 theatres. It opened at #2 on opening night, behind Batman, with a total of $14,262,961. It earned $130,724,172 domestic and $92,000,000 overseas, earning a grand total of $222,724,172.[1] Attached to it was Disney and Amblin Entertainment's first Roger Rabbit short, Tummy Trouble, executively produced by Steven Spielberg, produced by Don Hahn, and directed by Rob Minkoff.

Critical reception[edit]

The film has earned a 75% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with generally positive reviews. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times, gave a negative review, stating: "The special effects are all there, nicely in place, and the production values are sound, but the movie is dead in the water." Caryn James, of The New York Times, gave a positive review, saying: "As sweet, funny, and straightforward as its title." Variety gave another positive review stating, "[It's] in the best tradition of Disney -- and even better than that, because it is not so juvenile that adults won't be thoroughly entertained."

Awards[edit]

James Horner won an ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films and was also nominated for a Saturn Award. The film was also nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Thomas Wilson Brown, Jared Rushton, Robert Oliveri and the Special Effects Crew were also nominated for a Saturn Award. The Special Effects Crew were also won a BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects. Amy O'Neill and Jared Rushton were nominated for a Young Artist Award and director Joe Johnston a Fantasporto Award.

The film was presented in the 100 Greatest Family Films, in which Amy O'Neill and Thomas Wilson Brown talked about it for MTV.

Soundtrack[edit]

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Soundtrack album by James Horner
Released March 6, 2009
Genre Soundtrack
Length 51:10
Label Intrada Records
Producer James Horner
Simon Rhodes

After years without releasing James Horner's soundtrack to the film, Intrada Records released it on March 6, 2009. The song that Amy dances to in the kitchen is "Turn It Up" by Nick Kamen, written by Jeffrey Pescetto and Patrick DeRemer.

The soundtrack was limited to a 3,000 copies release. Horner’s main title music incorporates cues from the score by Nino Rota from Federico Fellini's film Amarcord (1973) and Raymond Scott’s piece "Powerhouse B" (1937), the latter often referenced in Carl Stalling’s Warner Bros. cartoon scores. Scott's piece was used without payment or credit, leading his estate to threaten legal action against Disney. Disney paid an undisclosed sum in an out-of-court settlement and changed the film's cue sheets to credit Scott.[5] Horner’s main title music underscores all the major moments involving Szalinski’s technology.

With 15 tracks, Horner produced the record with longtime engineer Simon Rhodes while it was originally conducted at the London Symphony Orchestra.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Main Title" – 1:59
  2. "Strange Neighbors" – 1:49
  3. "Shrunk" – 5:37
  4. "A New World" – 3:31
  5. "Scorpion Attack" – 3:34
  6. "Test Run" – 2:08
  7. "Flying Szalinski" – 1:59
  8. "Night Time" – 5:04
  9. "Watering the Grass" – 4:13
  10. "Ant Rodeo" – 3:45
  11. "The Machine Works" – 2:05
  12. "Lawn Mower" – 5:45
  13. "Eaten Alive" – 2:44
  14. "Big Russ Volunteers" – 1:24
  15. "Thanksgiving Dinner" – 5:27

Sequels[edit]

In 1992, Disney released the first sequel, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, with Moranis, Strassman, Oliveri and O'Neill reprising their roles as Wayne, Diane, Nick and Amy Szalinski. As the title suggests, Wayne succeeds in enlarging his two-year-old son, Adam, to gigantic proportions as one of his size-changing experiments goes awry.

A three-dimensional film called Honey, I Shrunk the Audience complete with physical effects such as wind and water was created as an attraction at Walt Disney World's Epcot in 1994, and later Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. It is a mock award show by "The Imagination Institute" that is intended to honor Wayne Szalinski as "Inventor of the Year". Instead, the audience is "shrunk" and threatened by a giant Quark, a giant python (Gigabyte), a giant Diane, and even a giant Adam, among other thrills. It reprises most of the original cast and adds Eric Idle as the host of the award show. It is currently closed at all of its locations due to the return of Captain EO (which was originally replaced by it in 1994). Currently no return dates have been confirmed.

In 1997, Disney produced the second sequel, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, as a direct to video release. Only Rick Moranis reprised his role, with Amy and Nick having gone off to college and Quark having passed away. Many new characters were added such as Wayne's brother, Gordon, and his family. This time, the parents are reduced to minuscule size and need to be rescued by their kids. Wayne's niece, Jenny, was played by Allison Mack, and a friend by Mila Kunis.

The last incarnation of the franchise was the television program Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show. Peter Scolari took over as Wayne and Nick and Amy both returned as characters, roughly the same age as in the original film, and played by new actors. Its plots involved other wacky Szalinski inventions (rarely the shrink ray) that do not work quite as expected and land the family in some type of humorous mixed-up adventure.

References[edit]

External links[edit]