Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

(On DVD, March 2018) Frankly, I expected to like Honey I Shrunk the Kids a lot more than I did. But there is something right now in being a parent that stops me from liking kids-in-danger movies, and it don’t get worse than the idea of children being reduced to ant size and then losing themselves in their backyard. The sheer terror of being the dad who realizes what has happened, and what mortal danger he himself may pose to his kids, is only one of the reasons why I expect this film to be far more accessible to kids than their parents. It’s meant as a comedy, but I didn’t laugh a lot—it doesn’t help that as a special-effects-heavy film, Honey I Shrunk the Kids has aged poorly in an era of omnipresent special effects. Much of the FX shot are hopelessly dated, and it’s hard to ignore them when the entire film is built on a parade of such sequences. (They have also aged more poorly than SF&F spectacles of the same time given that they’re meant to portray the familiar in an extraordinary way—but we know what the ordinary looks like and every imperfection counts.)  Rick Moranis is perfectly cast as the absent-minded dad, but even his borderline charm (as in; easy to grate) can’t do much against a script that is based on heavy authorial intervention rather than organic plot development. Everything feels manipulated to give us a ride rather than make us believe in a story. Coupled to the child-endangerment block mentioned above, it means that sitting through the film is tougher than expected. Oh, it still does work here and there. The Bee sequence makes no sense (a bee that stays in a single backyard?) but looks better and reels more dynamic than other sequences. There’s a Lego brick segment that I had completely forgotten from watching the film as a kid. And there’s some mildly entertaining bickering between the kids. Still, I’m curiously put off by Honey I Shrunk the Kids—and I’ll be the first to admit that this is an idiosyncratic reaction that may not be shared.

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