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
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18 million
Box office $222.7 million[1]

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 soft 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 shrinking machine and throws them out into the backyard with the trash, where they must venture into their backyard to return home while fending off against insects and other obstacles.

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 1996, 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 scientist and inventor Wayne Szalinski lives in his suburban home attempting to perfect a ray gun capable of shrinking objects, but the apples he uses as test objects instead blow up. After an argument between Wayne and his wife Diane, she spent the night with her mother and is currently at work, worrying her teenaged daughter Amy, and their son Nick, who has acquired his father's inventive ingenuity and intelligence. Next door neighbors; the Thompsons, are getting ready for a fishing trip, but Russ' oldest son Little Russ is less than enthusiastic, as he and his father's interests often clash, resulting in his feeling belittled, and he is more interested in meeting Amy than spending the weekend camping. Younger son Ron, however, is enthusiastic, though his relationship with Russ Sr. is strained when he inadvertently sets off a booby trap in the yard.

Wayne instructs Amy and Nick to clean the house in preparation for Diane's return home before leaving for his conference. Nick is assigned to do the lawn, but he makes a deal to let his friend Tommy mow the lawn with the remote-controlled mower, but having to leave he promises to do it later. Ron accidentally hits his baseball through the Szalinskis' attic window, which inadvertently activates the machine and blocks its targeting laser. Caught by little Russ, he is made to apologize to Nick and Amy, and Amy has her brother take Ron to retrieve his ball; the two encounter the machine and are hit by its beam. At his conference, Wayne is laughed at for failing to provide proof of his shrink ray and leaves in frustration, while at the house Amy and Russ go to check on their siblings and are shrunk by the ray. When Wayne returns home, they try to get his attention, but their voices are too small and he is unable to hear them. Frustrated by his day and the broken window he discovers, Wayne takes it out on the machine, damaging it and nearly crushing the children with the shrapnel of parts. He then sweeps the debris (and the children) into a dust pan and takes them out in a trash bag. They escape and enter the uncut yard's wilderness where Nick calculates over 3.2 miles at their size to get back to the house and they start walking. Meanwhile, Diane returns home and she and Wayne make up, but they soon grow concerned about Nick and Amy. While trying to summon their dog Quark, Nick falls into a flower and is picked up by a bee, and Russ jumps on it to help him. The bee flies around the backyard with the two stuck to its hair and attacks Wayne who knocks it out of the air with a baseball bat causing the bee to crash land before realizing that a baseball was what caused the window to break in the attic. There, he finds his shrunken couch and realizes what happened to the kids; afraid to step on the lawn he arranges a sling to hover over the grass and search for the children. Next door, Russ and Mae are forced to call off their trip because their boys haven't returned yet and they call the police to report them missing.

Having been separated from Amy and Ron, Nick and Russ go to search for them. Wayne, after a snafu with his sling, resorts to using stilts to search for the kids and accidentally activates the sprinklers which causes chaotic torrents to come down on them. Amy is nearly drowned when she is knocked into a pool of mud, but Russ saves her with CPR. Soon, their hunger is sated by one of Nick's oatmeal creme cookies, but their meal is interrupted by an ant scouting it. Ron decides to tame it in order to take them home, but soon they grow attached to "Antie" and try to set him free, but he instead decides to follow Ron like a loyal pet. After calling the police, Diane is told what happened to the kids and she joins in the search after a short panic attack, she convinces Wayne to tell the Thompsons, who are extremely skeptical and Russ threatens Wayne but leaves his porch light on just in case. The kids find a Lego block to camp for the night, and after a heart felt conversation about their feelings for each other, Russ and Amy kiss but are interrupted by an arrival of a scorpion which traps Ron in the Lego while the others escape. Antie comes to rescue Ron, but is mortally wounded as the kids unite and drive the scorpion off. Ron's heart is broken when Antie dies and they bury him. The next morning, Tommy returns to mow the lawn. Nick recognizes this and they run, seeking shelter in an earthworm burrow; Wayne and Diane stop Tommy just in time to save the kids who are blown out of the burrow by the mower's blades, but they despair when they still can't get the Szalinskis' attention. Riding Quark into the house, Nick loses his grip and falls into Wayne's bowl of Cheerios; he is nearly swallowed before Quark bites Wayne, making him aware of Nick and the other kids' presence.

Back in the attic, Nick and the others manage to communicate that the baseball made the machine work and Wayne realizes the laser it blocked was giving it too much heat, causing things to blow up. He corrects the mistake and Russ Sr. volunteers as a test subject, which is almost successful (his hat no longer fits, but then, Mae took the cigarettes he was hiding in it). The kids are then restored to their normal sizes and are reunited with their families. Months later, at Thanksgiving the Thompsons and Szalinskis, now close friends, are toasting over an enlarged turkey. Russ and Amy are apparently dating now while Ron and Nick are friends, while Quark is eating from an enlarged Milkbone treat. Nick finally gets a joke that Russ told him about learning CPR in "French" class. 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. He was filming the second sequel, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and was too busy to portray Wayne.

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

Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland portray Big Russ and Mae Thompson, the Szalinskis' next door neighbors and parents of Russ Jr. and Ron. Russ is very demanding of Little Russ 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 him 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. Little Russ, 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 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 Boggs 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. It 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 was originally from, and thus the Szalinski residence depicted in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is in Fresno.

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 sprinklers scene and the scene involving the bee.[2] Scale models were also used for the bee scene, with miniature Russ Jr. 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 1996, Disney produced the second sequel, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, as a direct to video release. Rick Moranis was the only returning actor from the previous films who reprised his role, with Amy and Nick having gone off to college and Quark's disappearance never being explained. 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.

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 shrinking machine) that do not work quite as expected and land the family in some type of humorous mixed-up adventure.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]