I do this thing where, after enjoying something, I have a desire to dive into all things related to said thing. So, when my kids had such a great time watching Honey, I Shrunk The Kids last month, I immediately started telling them about that film’s 1992 sequel Honey, I Blew Up The Kid. “In the next one, a two-year-old grows huge and stomps around” is a great sell for six- and three-year-olds in my experience.
So, I requested the DVD from our library and we happened to get it last weekend. My parents are currently in Ireland and my wife went to New Hampshire on Saturday for a bridal shower, so I did my best to keep the kids super entertained that day. After hitting the library (where we got the movie and other fun stuff), the park and then home for naps, I set up the projector and screen in the backyard for the Dietscheplex!
As you can see in the above photo, I didn’t exactly get the screen lined up right, but it was getting late and the kiddos were getting restless, so we just went with it. They were immediately delighted with the animated opening credits featuring a gigantic kid knocking his dad around. From there, they enjoyed the story about, well, exactly that.
We pick back up with the Szalinski family including inventor dad Wayne (Rick Moranis), matriarch Diane (Marcia Strassman), smitten high school nerd Nick (Robert Oliveri), off-to-college Amy (Amy O’Neill) and new addition Adam (Joshua and Daniel Shalikar). Wayne’s struggling with a growth machine for his boss played by John Shea who wants to get rid of the wacky inventor. After figuring out a solution to the problem, Wayne takes Nick and Adam to the lab — Diane’s off taking Amy to college — the escape artist child accidentally takes a zap from the now-working ray.
From there we see a series of wacky scenes as Adam gets bigger, his family begins to catch on, Wayne tries to keep it all from Diane and then they all try to work together to keep Adam safe while also breaking into a warehouse to steal the original shrinking ray to get him back to normal size. Oh, plus Nick and his love interest/Adam’s babysitter Mandy (Keri Russell!) wind up in his overall front pocket for quite a while. And, because it’s awesome, we end with a huge kiddo stomping through Las Vegas!
My kids really enjoyed the movie and so did I. I’m pretty sure I first saw this film in the theaters with my grandparents when I was about 9. It worked for me then and it did the same again. This time around, I was also able to appreciate the great special effects work at hand. You’ve got forced perspective gags, the kid running around a set that makes him look huge, giant robot toddler feet and even a guy in a wild costume to represent him from back angels so he can actually interact with his family for a time.
Like with the first one, I also have to take a minute to talk about this film’s cast and crew. The originals all do a great job of picking up their roles a few years later. If you’re wondering why Amy leaves so quickly, it’s because this script was originally something completely different, but was re-written as a Shrunk sequel and they didn’t want to add her character in! Anyway, you’ve also got Shea, one of my all-time favorite 90s villains thanks to his turn as Lex Luthor on Lois & Clark.
Lloyd Bridges also shows up as the owner of the company Wayne works for and he’s fantastic. Around this time, he was doing a lot more slapstick work — or at least that’s what I knew him from — so it was nice to see him doing something a bit more serious (though him basically narrating exactly what’s happening on the screen is hilarious). We’ve even got SNL alumna Julia Sweeney as Nosy Neighbor!
I obviously loved the cast, but I also really loved the story. It would have been so easy to shrink another batch of kids or adults — as they did in the third film — but this idea just works so well and goes to all kinds of other great places while still occasionally nodding back to the first. It’s funny that it was intended as a different film and might be one of the few times when a franchise-focused re-write really worked well. It helps to have a pro director like Randal Kleiser on board. He did a couple of little films called Grease and Flight Of The Navigator.
Given my aforementioned completist nature, I guess we’ll be watching Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves next (it’s on Netflix) and then seeing if I can find the Peter Scolari-starring TV series. The kids are definitely on board for the former and I bet I could get them psyched about the latter.