Family Movie Night: Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

As a kid, I was a huge Honey, I Shrunk The Kids fan. Now that I think about it, it might have been the first kids-in-a-crazy-situation movie that I saw and loved. I’d go on to fall for movies like Goonies, The Gate, Monster Squad and Cloak & Dagger, but it may have all started with this film (or maybe it was E.T.).

The movie stars Rick Moranis as hapless inventor Wayne Szalinski who just can’t figure out how to make his shrinking ray work. Much to everyone’s surprise, a stray baseball accidentally hit through the attic window by one of the next door neighbors leads to both Szalinski kids — Amy (Amy O’Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri) — getting shrunk along with the two neighbor boys Little Russ (Thomas Wilson Brown) and Ron (Jared Rushton). Smaller than ants, they wind up having to struggle to get across the backyard into the house and back in front of the shrink ray in hopes that Wayne can fix them.

When this film popped back up on Netflix Instant recently, I was really excited to watch with my kids. Not long after it reappeared, my daughter who’s in kindergarten was talking about how things are larger or smaller in comparison to each other (ie: to an ant, we’re huge, etc.). I tried to keep it cool because they can smell when you’re desperately trying to push your nostalgia on them, so I said something like, “Oh hey, if you think that’s a cool idea, there’s this movie…” And it worked!

Later that week we turned this movie on for Family Movie Night and it went over pretty well! Our son, who’s three, was a little scared at times and I don’t blame him. This film’s a lot more intense than I remembered. First off, Wayne and his wife Diane (Marcia Strassman) are close to splitting up in the beginning! More than that, though, the kids get BEAT UP in this movie as they get thrown from various bugs, nearly drown and almost get sucked up into a whirling vacuum of death created by a remote control lawn mower. More than once I had to answer questions about why the children on screen were bleeding, filthy and/or nearly suffocated.

I’d love to say that my kids also really responded to the practical effects in the film, but that’s probably just me projecting. I loved it though. We had the Disney Channel when I was a kid and I’m pretty sure they showed behind-the-scenes clips of how the movie was made. Those blew my mind and captured my imagination. Ever since, I’ve loved the idea of being a normal sized person walking around a set with gigantic Legos or bugs or Cheerios.

In fact, I was also a huge fan of the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids playground at Disney World. I don’t know where they are at the moment, but there are definitely pictures of me playing on those huge leaves near the piece of unraveled Kodak film and maybe even the Play-Doh canister. We must have been there pretty soon after the movie came out because I also remember getting to hop on a giant bug and having my photo taken (probably on Kodak film, I’d imagine)! Better yet? The first time we took my daughter to Disney World, she got to play on the same space. Now, it’s closed. Such is life.

I’ve also got to take a second to talk about the people who made this movie. Joe Johnston directed. He’d go on to make Rocketeer and Captain America: The First Avenger. Even crazier? It’s written by Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon who are noted and beloved horror movie makers. In addition to being awkwardly interviewed by me one time at NYCC, Gordon also helmed From Beyond, Re-Animator, Dolls, Robot Jox, Space Truckers and other movies.  Oh and the Thompson parents are played by Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) and Buffy’s Mom (Kristine Sutherland)! That’s an amazing pedigree!

So, I was happy that my kids enjoyed this movie as much as I did when I was their age. I even told them about Honey, I Blew Up The Kid, which they seemed interested in. Now, I guess it’s time to find that one!

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