Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Honey I Shrunk the kids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Johnston
Produced byPenney Finkelman Cox
Screenplay byEd Naha
Tom Schulman
Story byStuart Gordon
Brian Yuzna
Ed Naha
StarringRick Moranis
Matt Frewer
Marcia Strassman
Kristine Sutherland
Thomas Wilson Brown
Amy O'Neill
Jared Rushton
Robert Oliveri
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyHiro Narita
Edited byMichael A. Stevenson
Production
  company
Walt Disney Pictures
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date(s)
  • June 23, 1989 (1989-06-23)
Running time90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$18 million
Box office$222,724,172[1]
 
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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Honey I Shrunk the kids.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Johnston
Produced byPenney Finkelman Cox
Screenplay byEd Naha
Tom Schulman
Story byStuart Gordon
Brian Yuzna
Ed Naha
StarringRick Moranis
Matt Frewer
Marcia Strassman
Kristine Sutherland
Thomas Wilson Brown
Amy O'Neill
Jared Rushton
Robert Oliveri
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyHiro Narita
Edited byMichael A. Stevenson
Production
  company
Walt Disney Pictures
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date(s)
  • June 23, 1989 (1989-06-23)
Running time90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
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, the film 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 sends them out into the backyard with the trash.

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

Having problems at home with his wife Diane (Marcia Strassman), struggling inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) has created an electromagnetic shrink ray - unfortunately it only seems to make things explode. While at work, his next door neighbors' son, Ron Thompson (Jared Rushton), accidentally hits a baseball through the Szalinskis' attic window and activates the shrink ray. He and his older brother Russ Thompson, Jr. (Thomas Wilson Brown) and Wayne's children, Amy (Amy O'Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri), go up there to retrieve it. Luckily, it got stuck in the machine and blocked one of the laser components, resulting in it only releasing enough energy to shrink things instead of blowing them up, and the kids, a nearby couch, and chair are shrunk by the beam when it fires.

As Wayne comes home from a presentation at the lab, he notices his children and "thinking couch" missing. Without an explanation for this occurrence, he begins to get angry at the machine for being joked about at work. He begins to destroy it as the kids, now 1/4 of an inch tall, try to get his attention but to no avail. He begins to sweep up the mess and accidentally dumps them into the trash with it. They escape it and find themselves at the far end of the backyard. Knowing that crossing it to get back to the house will take hours at their size, they begin to climb a flower to see how far the house is. While clinging to it, Nick and Russ Jr. are attacked by a bee. They cling to it for dear life and are separated from Ron and Amy.

Russ Thompson, Sr. (Matt Frewer), Ron and Russ Jr's father, is getting aggravated at his missing sons since he was planning a fishing trip with the family. Russ Jr, who secretly likes Amy, often feels small compared to his dad's standards since he was cut from the football team (although it is revealed later on that he actually quit it). While looking at the attic floor, Wayne finds his "thinking couch" in a miniature form. He soon concludes that he shrunk the kids. Diane comes home and he tells her this. She becomes infuriated with him and tries to help search for the kids.

Meanwhile, Wayne accidentally turns on the sprinklers while searching for the kids in the backyard. Giant splashes of water soon surround them. Amy begins to drown in the muddy water near the flagstone while Wayne stops the sprinklers. Russ Jr. saves her before she dies and gives her CPR. The four children continue their journey. On their way, they find a creamy cookie in the yard. As they eat some of it, they meet an ant who befriends the group, nicknamed "Antie" by Ron. Wayne and Diane decide to tell Russ Sr. and Mae (Kristine Sutherland) about the shrinking of their children. They are not pleased, but Mae seems to understand more. At the end of the night, the children decide to sleep in one of Nick's blue Lego bricks. During the night Amy and Russ Jr. admit their feelings for each other and share a kiss, but are interrupted by an attacking scorpion. Antie is stung and fatally wounded by the scorpion's stinger while trying to rescue them, though they scare it off by bombarding it with stones and sharp sticks (Ron is able to put out two of its eyes). They comfort Antie who within moments dies from the poison.

In the morning, Nick's friend, Tommy, comes to mow the lawn (as part of a deal he made with Nick at the beginning of the film). The children hear the lawnmower and descend into a wormhole to escape. Wayne and Diane rush outside to make him stop, but unfortunately he does just as the lawnmower is over the hole. It sucks the kids out of it. They are not killed, but barely fail to get Wayne and Diane's attention. They realize that their voices are too high and quiet to be heard by them, but that they can be heard by Quark, the Szalinskis' dog. They hold onto his fur and ride him back to the house.

While Wayne is eating a bowl of Cheerios with milk, Nick accidentally lands into it when Quark jumps on the table. The group try to get Wayne's attention as Nick is about to be eaten. Quark bites Wayne's leg, who freezes with the spoon halfway to his mouth. Looking through a magnifying glass at it, he sees Nick. The kids communicate to their parents that the baseball went through the window and started the shrink ray. Armed with this information, Wayne pieces together how the accident made it work and brings the kids back to normal size after testing it by shrinking and regrowing Russ Sr.

A few months later, during Thanksgiving, the two families share an enlarged turkey together and are happy. Russ Sr. has come to terms with his son quitting the football team, the two dads become friends, Wayne and Diane patch up their problems, Nick and Ron finally become friends, and Russ and Amy begin dating. The movie ends with Quark eating a giant milk bone as a Thanksgiving treat. But as the movie begins to black out, it suddenly reopens to Nick, realizing a joke that Russ made earlier about learning CPR in French class. The movie closes with him laughing, getting the joke.

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 the film's 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 Thompson Sr. and Mae Thompson, the Szalinskis' next door neighbors and parents of Russ Jr. and Ron. Russ Sr. is very demanding of his older son 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, 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]

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids opened on June 23, 1989, in 1,498 theatres. The film opened at #2 on opening night, behind Batman, with a total of $14,262,961. The film earned $130,724,172 domestic and $92,000,000 overseas, earning a grand total of $222,724,172.[1] Attached to the film 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 the film for MTV.

Soundtrack[edit]

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Soundtrack album by James Horner
ReleasedMarch 6, 2009
GenreSoundtrack
Length51:10
LabelIntrada Records
ProducerJames 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 Rick Moranis and Marcia Strassman reprising their roles as Wayne and Diane Szalinski. As the title suggests, Wayne succeeds in enlarging his two-year-old son 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. The attraction 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 dog (Quark), a giant python (Gigabyte), a giant woman (Diane), and even a giant kid (Adam), among other thrills. The attraction reprises most of the original cast and adds Eric Idle as the host of the award show. The attraction is currently closed at all of its locations due to the return of Captain EO (which was originally replaced by Honey 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 in this film, with Amy and Nick having gone off to college and Quark having passed away. Many new characters were added such as Wayne's brother and his family. This time, the parents are reduced to minuscule size and need to be rescued by their kids. Wayne's niece Jenny Szalinski 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 Szalinski, and Nick and Amy both returned as characters, roughly the same age as in the original film, and played by new actors. The show's 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]