Honey I Shrunk the Kids

Year: 1989
Studio: Disney
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer: Stuart Gordon/Brian Yuzna/Ed Naha/Tom Schulman
Cast: Rich Moranis, Matt Frewer

Disney has gone through some very visible shifts in tone under various leaderships – more so than other studios, all of which seemed merely to follow the trends of the day in adult drama, sci-fi in the Star Wars era, the desperate scramble for superhero franchises, etc. Back in the 70s Disney came the closest ever to producing fare aimed at adults, a remit it expanded during the 80s with labels like Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures.

But at the dawn of the third decade of the 21st century as I write this, it's restricted itself to animated family films, enjoying the money-making potential of properties like Marvel and LucasFilm but not making any of the stuff, just owning its producers and makers.

I'd have to go back through release dates to find out if this movie came in the midst of a sweet spot between the grown up and kid-friendly tones Disney dabbled with at various points in its history, but even if it didn't, Honey I Shrunk the Kids represents such a skilful blend all by itself.

After the blistering success of Ghostbusters , Rick Moranis shied away from the spotlight to care for his ailing wife, but this franchise is all his. Wayne Szalinski isn't exactly as much of a nerd as Louis Tully was, but he's a gormless scientist who wears glasses and Moranis isn't afraid to look silly, so there are shades of his most famous role.

He's an inventor trying to perfect a shrink ray which is accidentally activated, reducing both his children and the kids from next door to the size of insects whereupon they're uncermoniously dumped in their own backyard trash can.

They have to fight their way through cavernous jungles, ravenous creatures now blown up to the relative size of a house and countless other dangers and obstacles to make it back to the house and get their parents' attention so things can be put right.

It's been years since I saw it, so this review isn't as comprehensive as it might be otherwise (it's only because I realised I'd somehow missed it years ago in my original list). Something I also might not have mentioned had I reviewed it closer to the time it came out is the effects – made as it was in the late 80s they're a bit ropey, as a look at trailers and clips online now shows, but as with all movies, at the time we simply didn't know any better.

None of which detracts from the deft handling of tone by director Joe Johnston. it's good natured and sweet while having the requisite amount of adventure and danger the premise deserves.

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