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
Editing byMichael A. Stevenson
StudioWalt Disney Pictures
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • 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
Editing byMichael A. Stevenson
StudioWalt Disney Pictures
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • 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 live-action comedy 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 8th highest-grossing film of the year. It was met with mixed to positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike who praised the visuals and innovation, but criticized the story and other elements. 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]

On a Saturday morning, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is irritating his next door neighbor Russ Thompson Sr (Matt Frewer) building machinery in his attic. With a long fishing camping trip ahead of them, Russ Sr's wife Mae Thompson (Kristine Sutherland) manages to calm him down. Their two sons are Ron Thompson (Jared Rushton), a troublemaker who is energetic about the upcoming trip, and Russ Thompson Jr (Thomas Wilson Brown) who has been showing a complete lack of interest in many of the things his father holds dear. While Wayne's teenage daughter Amy Szalinski (Amy O'Neill) daydreams of an upcoming dance while Wayne's young son Nick Szalinski (Robert Oliveri) emulates his father's interest in science and inventing. The families as a whole do not get along, and with the temporary separation of Wayne's wife Diane Szalinski (Marcia Strassman) things at home seem strained as well.

That same day, Wayne goes to a conference to seek funding for a shrink ray he's invented, though he does not tell them it only blows things up so far instead of shrinking them. The other scientists laugh at him and go to lunch during his presentation. Meanwhile, Ron knocks a baseball through the Szalinski's attic window, activating the shrink ray and falling into its focusing laser. The shrink ray starts shrinking objects in the room, starting with an old couch and chair. Russ Jr forces Ron to fess up to Nick and Amy. Nick and Ron go upstairs to retrieve the ball . Unbeknownst to them, the shrink ray detects their entry and immediately shrinks them. Afterwards, Russ Jr and Amy go to check on them and they too are shrunk to 1/4 of an inch in height. Wayne returns home to find the house a mess and Nick and Amy missing. Unaware that the kids are shrunk, he then goes to the attic. Prior to his entry, the baseball falls off the ray and hits the power button, powering it down. The kids try to get Wayne's attention, but they are too small to be heard or seen. Wayne goes to sit on his couch, but falls down since it is missing. He then notices the hole in the window from Ron's baseball. Wayne takes out his anger from his day on the machine and starts destroying it. Wayne sweeps up the mess and with it the children, throwing them out with the garbage on the other side of the back yard. Stranded 'miles' from the house, Nick plans to lure their dog Quark to them as he can hear what humans cannot; it nearly works until the Thompsons' cat, Spike, scares him back into the house. Nick falls into a flower and is picked up by a bee. Russ Jr jumps on to help him, and they are separated from Ron and Amy. After being swatted at by Wayne, the bee crash lands and the groups make their way back together. The Forresters, friends of the Thompsons, arrive to start the camping trip. Russ Sr lies about his children missing to the Forresters and they leave for the camp without the Thompsons, infuriating Russ Sr into saying "those kids" are grounded. While looking at the attic floor, Wayne steps on his chair, and then finds his couch in a miniature form. Wayne learns the shrink ray shrunk Nick, Amy, Russ Jr, and Ron. He then realizes he must have swept them up, and discovers their escape from the trash bag. While wearing stilts to try and not step on them in the yard, Wayne accidentally turns on the sprinklers. While outrunning the storm, Amy falls into a pool of mud and nearly drowns until Russ Jr uses mouth-to-mouth to bring her back.

After encountering an Oatmeal Cream Pie that Nick has thrown out, the children encounter an ant that they call Antie and decide to use it to ride back home. As it gets dark, Diane returns home and calls the police to report their children missing, and the same police officers who are taking a similar report from the Thompsons are sent. Wayne tells Diane the situation who is less than excited as she faints in front of the police. Later, Wayne and Diane rig a sling to look for the kids in the dark as the kids seek shelter in a Lego block to sleep. Diane tells Wayne that they need to inform the Thompsons about the children. Not surprisingly, the Thompsons do not believe them and storm off. Later that night the children are attacked by a scorpion, and are unable to fend it off. Antie tries to save them and fights the scorpion, but is stung and killed. Ron drives off the scorpion by throwing a stick into its eyes. In the morning they continue their trek to the house. That same day Nick's friend Tommy comes to the house to mow the lawn on an earlier agreement he had with Nick the day before. Wayne and Diane hear the mower and are able to get Tommy to turn it off, but not before the kids are sucked through it and thrown closer to the house. Landing inches from Wayne, Ron loses hope they'll ever be noticed when Quark comes in and picks them up. Running inside, Quark barks at Wayne and Nick falls into his bowl of Cheerios. He is nearly eaten until Quark bites Wayne's leg getting him to notice Nick is in his spoon. They bring the Thompsons over as they try and un-shrink their kids but can't replicate the accident. The kids perform charades to tell them that the baseball is what caused the shrink ray to work by blocking the laser and allowing it to shrink things instead of blowing them up. Russ Sr insists they test the ray on him before the kids to insure it is safe. After successfully shrinking and regrowing him (despite a height and hat size change), they return their children to their normal size and the Szalinskis and the Thompsons embrace, and a friendship is formed between Russ Sr and Wayne.

At Thanksgiving the Szalinskis and the Thompsons get together over an enlarged turkey to eat as Quark eats a giant sized Milkbone. As they make their toast, Russ Jr and Amy play footsie under the table, hinting at a possible budding relationship between the two of them while Nick finally realizes the punchline to a joke Russ Jr had made after giving Amy artificial respiration earlier.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Walt Disney Pictures wanted to make a film that dealt with miniaturization. The film was written as Teenie Weenies by Stuart Gordon, Ed Naha, and Brian Yuzna. Tom Schulman was later added to the group of screenwriters. As Teenie 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 Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man, and 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 on his older son and can't understand why he can't be 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 would comment that he was in awe about watching his stunt double do his stunts. He would later star 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. It was filmed at the backlot of Churubusco Studios in Mexico City at the end of 1988 and the beginning of 1989. 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, there is a sign that 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 into 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 to a grand total of 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 1973 Amarcord by Nino Rota and Raymond Scott’s 1937 Powerhouse B tune, 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, it is the parents who 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, but were also 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]