Moranis's Mini Moppet Mayhem
"Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" was one of those 80s movies which tried to pay homage to those late 50s and 60s movies such as "The Nutty Professor" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" making them work for a new generation. As such it has all those elements, the whacky inventor, the over sized props as people are shrunk as well as a sense of adventure as the plucky group of mini children battle there way to safety. And as such it is moderately fun, even now over 20 years after it was released and has a wonderful old fashioned innocence about it, but the spark of entertainment to make it great is sadly missing.
Whilst their father, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis), is at a presentation to try and sell his latest invention, his children are left to clean up the house. But when their neighbour's youngest son, Ron (Jared Rushton), manages to hit a baseball through their attic window, he inadvertently switching on Mr. Szalinski's shrinking machine and when the children go up in the attic they end up being shrunk. When Mr. Szalinski returns home he is unaware of what has happened and in the process of throwing out the trash also manages to throw his children and the neighbour's children out with the rubbish. Now outside in a world where ants are bigger than they are, the four children must embark on adventure to try and get back and hopefully find some way of returning to their normal size again.
Stripped away the storyline to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" is a fantasy adventure as we watch the 4 tiny children's journey through their garden, avoiding danger, sliding down leaves, riding on ants and finding dropped cookies amongst many other things. There is a wonderful imagination to this, something I will say is missing from many modern children's movies, and you revel in the whole fantasy side of things and the cleverness of one of them falling into a flower where the pollen is as big as rocks.
There is also another side to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and that is Mr. Szalinski and his whacky inventions. The opening scenes feature a series of imaginative gadgets which he has invented for making life easier, not always successfully. But the combination of them not working and the general wackiness of them, such as dog biscuit dispensary makes it all rather amusing and intentionally so.
But whilst "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" delivers the creativity and fantasy side of things with the wackiness of an unsuccessful inventor who has a box of crazy gadgets there is something missing. It all feels a little restrained as if director Joe Johnston wanted to give the whole thing a more dramatic feel rather than really going all out to get the laughs. It's a shame as there are some great scenes, battles with wasps and ants, eating giant cookies all of which could have been really funny but the laughs don't really come. The laughs are left to come from Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski and in fairness he does deliver but it makes it all unbalanced.
Aside from Rick Moranis it has to be said that the rest of the cast fail to make any lasting impression. The kids deliver just the right blend of cuteness and annoyance whilst the twee romantic storyline between Amy and Russ adds another element. But they do enough to be memorable as they journey across the dangers of their back yard and bowls of Cheerios.
Something you would think would affect "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" watching it now over 20 years since it was made would be the effects. And whilst yes some of the effects, the over sized props do look tacky it sort of adds to the whole comedy of it all, you can't but help laugh at the kids digging in to an oversized cookie. But at the same time some of the effects are actually quite impressive such as the scene featuring the bee attack.
What this all boils down to is that "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" is very much amusing bit of light entertainment which is so innocent that it's unlikely to offend anyone. Where it works is that it delivers than fantasy journey full of imagination and has a few decent laughs thanks to Rick Moranis. But that real spark of comedy is missing making it surprisingly not that memorable.