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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a 1989 comedy film. The directorial debut of Joe Johnston and released through Walt Disney Pictures and Silver Screen Partners III, the film tells the story of a professor who accidentally shrinks his and his neighbor's kids to 1/4 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 professor who accidentally shrinks his children and Marcia Strassman portrays his wife, Diane, the "honey" in the film's title and the titles of the sequels and Disney park attraction. Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland star as the Szalinskis' next door neighbors, the Thompsons.

Synopsis

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 neighbor's son, Ron Thompson (Jared Rushton), hits a baseball into the Szalinskis' attic window and starts the shrink ray. Ron and his older brother Russ (Thomas Wilson Brown) and Wayne's children, Amy (Amy O'Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri), go up to the attic to retrieve the baseball. Luckily, it gets stuck in the machine and blocks 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 gone and his "thinking couch" missing. Without an explanation for this occurrence, he begins to get angry at the machine for being joked about during work. He begins to destroy it as the kids, now 1/4 of an inch, try to get his attention, but to no avail. He begins to sweep up the mess and accidentally sweeps the children into the trash. The kids escape it and find themselves at the far end of the backyard. Knowing that crossing the yard 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 the flower, Nick and Russ are attacked by a bee. They cling to it for dear life and are separated from Ron and Amy.

Big Russ Thompson (Matt Frewer), Ron and Russ's bumbling father, is getting aggravated at his missing sons since he was planning a fishing trip with the family. Russ, who secretly likes Amy, often feels small compared to his dad's standards since he was cut from the football team (although it's revealed later on that he actually quit the team). While looking at the attic floor, Wayne finds his "thinking couch" in a miniature form. He soon concludes that he shrunk the kids. His wife Diane comes home and he tells her this. She becomes infuriated with Wayne 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 saves her before she dies and gives her CPR. The four children continue their journey. On their way, they find a cream cookie in the yard. They meet an ant who befriends the group, nicknamed "Antie" by Ron. Wayne and Diane decide to tell Big Russ 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 a blue Lego of Nick's. During the night Amy and Russ admit their feelings for each other and share a kiss, but are interrupted by an attacking scorpion. Antie, trying to rescue them is fatally wounded by the scorpion's stinger, though the kids 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 in moments dies from the poison.

In the morning, Tommy, Nick's friend, comes to mow the lawn. The children hear the lawn mower and descend into a wormhole to escape. Wayne and Diane rush outside to make Tommy stop, but unfortunately he does just as the lawn mower is over the hole. It sucks Nick out of it, but the group holds on to him. They are not killed, but do not get the attention of their parents. 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 on to his fur and ride him back to the house.

While Wayne is eating a bowl of Cheerios, Nick accidentally lands in it. The group try to get Wayne's attention as Nick is about to be eaten. Quark bites Wayne, who freezes with the spoon halfway to his mouth. Looking through a magnifying glass at it, he sees his son. 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 up to normal size after using it to shrink and regrow Big Russ.

A few months later, during Thanksgiving, the two families eat an enlarged turkey together and are happy. Big Russ has come to terms with his son quitting football, 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

Production

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. After Teenie Weenies seemed to appear more to a children demographic, the name was changed to Grounded to have a more mature audience. It was later rejected and The Big Backyard was chosen.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, a line stated in the film, was finally chosen as the last name. The film was heavily influenced by 50s films such as Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Amazing Colossal Man, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.[2]

Casting

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

John Candy was also a choice for "nutty" inventor Wayne Szalinski. Candy, who declined the role, suggested to director Joe Johnston that Rick Moranis should portray Wayne. Marcia Strassman portrays Wayne's wife, Diane, who is having marital troubles with her husband.

Matt Frewer and Kristine Sutherland portray Big Russ Thompson and Mae Thompson. Big Russ, who is the father of Little Russ and Ron, 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 is OK with it). He is usually dim-witted and clumsy and takes to cigarettes when he is nervous or scared. On the other hand, Mae is a very nice person and friendly with the Szalinskis, unlike her husband.

The film needed four teenagers to play the leads. Thomas Wilson Brown and Jared Rushton had been picked to portray the neighbor's kids, Russ and Ron. Russ seems to be interested in Amy, and less in football. Ron appears to be more straight-forward and a bully near 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

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 payphone, there is a sign that says 'Beverly Hills Mall.' It is unclear if the whole film takes place in Beverly Hills 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 simple effects that would work. For the scene where Wayne lands into the Thompsons' pool, Moranis jumped off of a flying board in the form of a teeter-totter on a swing set. A stuntman pushed the board, sending Moranis flying through the air, 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 the cookie 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

Box office

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. 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.

Critique

The film has earned a 73% "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

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

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 is a nod to Raymond Scott’s 1937 Powerhouse B tune, often referenced in Carl Stalling’s Warner Bros. cartoon scores. 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

  1. "Main Title" – 1:59
  2. "Strange Neighbors" – 1:49
  3. "Shrunk" – 5:37
  4. "A New World" – 3:31
  5. "Scorpian 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

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 "shrunken" and threatened by a giant dog (Quark), a giant python, a giant woman (Diane), and even a giant six-year-old (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 ironically replaced by Honey). Currently no return dates have been confirmed.

Disney produced Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves in 1997 as a direct to video release. Only Rick Moranis reprised his role in this film. 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 don't work quite as expected and land the family in some type of humorous mixed-up adventure.

Other uses

The title of the film formed the basis for a famous quote by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John Smith, MP for Britain's Labour Party at the Sheffield Rally on 1 April 1992, eight days before the 1992 general election. With Britain's economy in recession with almost unbroken detraction for almost two years, he criticised the Conservative Party government's management of the state of the nation's economy by quoting: "Starring John Major, directed by John Major, the Conservatives very own box office disaster - Honey, I Shrunk the Economy".

See also

References

External links

Template:Joe Johnstoncy:Honey, I Shrunk the Kidsit:Tesoro, mi si sono ristretti i ragazzi he:מותק, הילדים התכווצו nl:Honey, I Shrunk the Kidsru:Дорогая, я уменьшил детей (фильм) simple:Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

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