The Incredible Shrinking Woman
|The Incredible Shrinking Woman|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Hank Moonjean|
|Written by||Richard Matheson (novel)
Jane Wagner (screenplay)
|Music by||Suzanne Ciani|
|Edited by||Jeff Gourson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|January 30, 1981|
The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a 1981 American science fiction comedy film directed by Joel Schumacher (in his directing debut), written by Jane Wagner and starring Lily Tomlin, Charles Grodin, Ned Beatty, John Glover and Elizabeth Wilson. This film is a take-off on the 1957 science fiction classic film The Incredible Shrinking Man, and credited as based on Richard Matheson's 1956 novel, The Shrinking Man. The original music score was composed by Suzanne Ciani.
The film was released in pan-and-scan on VHS by Universal on July 13, 1994. On November 4, 2009, an unmastered low-quality DVD release (manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media) in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen was offered under the Universal Vault Series banner.
Pat Kramer of Tasty Meadows is an ordinary suburban housewife and mother of two children. Her husband Vance is an advertising executive. After exposure to an experimental perfume and other chemicals from her husband's company she begins to shrink, gradually at first, then rapidly.
A few weeks pass and Pat has shrunk to the height of her children. Eventually she becomes a celebrity of sorts, appearing on The Mike Douglas Show, and captures the hearts of the American people. Soon she is less than a foot tall, making her like a doll and forcing her to move into a dollhouse.
Pat is kidnapped by a group of mad scientists, who make it seem that she perished in the kitchen garbage disposal. They plan to shrink everyone in the world by performing experiments on her to learn her secret. With the help of a kind young lab custodian and a super-intelligent gorilla named Sydney she escapes.
Speaking of her escape to a crowd of people she continues to shrink, saying her goodbyes before becoming microscopic in size. Vanishing from sight, she is again presumed dead but in fact she falls into a puddle of spilled household chemicals - which returns her to her original size. After her homecoming celebrating her returning to a normal size she notices that her wedding ring is now too tight while her foot is splitting her shoe open, suggesting she might still be growing.
- Lily Tomlin as Pat Kramer/Judith Beasley
- Charles Grodin as Vance Kramer
- Ned Beatty as Dan Beame
- Henry Gibson as Dr. Eugene Nortz
- Elizabeth Wilson as Dr. Ruth Ruth
- Mark Blankfield as Rob
- Maria Smith as Concepcion
- Pamela Bellwood as Sandra Dyson
- John Glover as Tom Keller
- Nicholas Hormann as Logan Carver
- Jim McMullan as Lyle Parks (as James McMullan)
- Shelby Balik as Beth Kramer
- Justin Dana as Jeff Kramer
- Rick Baker as Sydney (as Richard A. Baker)
- Frank Welker as the voice of Sydney
- Mike Douglas as Himself
- Dick Wilson as Store Manager
- Sally Kirkland as Store Cashier
- Pat Ast as Customer in supermarket
Lily Tomlin plays four characters in this film: lead character Pat Kramer; her neighbor Judith Beasley (a character derived from Tomlin's live shows); Tomlin's Laugh-In characters "Ernestine" (a telephone operator); and "Edith Ann," (a little girl - seen only in the TV version of the film).
The film reunited Lily Tomlin with fellow Laugh-In cast member Henry Gibson.
Lily Tomlin and Elizabeth Wilson previously appeared together in Nine to Five as Violet Newstead and Roz Keith, respectively.
Rick Baker, who plays Sydney the Gorilla in the film, was the very first recipient of the Oscar for Best Make-Up for An American Werewolf in London when the category was first introduced in 1981. Baker's career, especially his early fascination with gorillas and his work in three movies featuring them, is told in the TV documentary Gorillas: Primal Contact.
The film's writer, Jane Wagner, is Tomlin's longtime life partner and frequent collaborator.
The movie started principal photography in February 1979 with John Landis directing but was suspended after a few days, with the reason stated as budget issues. Production resumed August 13, 1979 with Joel Schumacher replacing Landis.
The film opened to predominantly negative reviews from critics.
"an amiably funny variation on Jack Arnold's classic 1957 science-fiction film, The Incredible Shrinking Man, which had been based on Richard Matheson's novel The Shrinking Man," and went on to write that the film was "a low-key comedy that rambles from one comic idea to the next with the slightly uneasy manner of a nightclub comedian doing a new improvisation. It succeeds in bits and pieces that are separated by long patches that are more remarkable for their good will than for their wit."
Regarding Jane Wagner's screenplay, he wrote:
"Miss Wagner has a great talent for the kind of monologues, sketches and oddball characters that made Miss Tomlin's Appearing Nitely so memorable on Broadway, but not for creating a sustained comic narrative."
"a terrific movie for kids and teenagers. It's a melancholy fact of the times we live in that any movie of even moderate ambition is supposed to become a blockbuster - and that "family movies," with few exceptions, are inane, innocent, and boring. But The Incredible Shrinking Woman is not inane, is sometimes wickedly knowing, and is only periodically boring."
Ebert noted that the movie was:
"also funny in its visual approach, showing us a suburban world in which everything is done in hideously jolly colors and everybody, even the TV anchorman, wears peach blazers. America in this movie looks like a gigantic paint-color chart,"
but ultimately remarked that while the movie succeeds on several levels, it does so:
"without ever breaking through to become a really inspired comedy."