There was a time when part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios was dedicated to a little film called Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). In fact, the park opened the same year as the movie, originally as Disney’s MGM Studios. In case you are wondering, MGM stands for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. At any rate, one of the early attractions at the park was a play area for tikes who remained stubbornly uninterested in attractions like the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, or the Great Movie Ride (a personal favorite). I have vague recollections of wandering around its confines as a teen. It was pretty neat. As you see in the film, with Disney magic you were made into the same size as an insect and forced to crawl around a yard where blades of grass are is tall as a church steeple. No matter what Disney might want you to believe, they are anything but nostalgic or sentimental. When the Mouse bought the rights to Star Wars, it was out with the old to make way for Galaxy’s Edge, the new area of the park themed for the tales of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Not that I am complaining. I love Galaxy’s Edge and the rides in it. Besides, who remembers movies that are over thirty years old now anyway? Oh, wait. . . .
In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is a bit of a dreamer. His dreams are of the technological variety, and his house is full of a number of gadgets designed to make his family’s life “easier.” What would seemingly make things simpler would be the presence of his wife, Diane (Marcia Strassman). This is something felt by his daughter, Amy (Amy O’Neill), who is busy doing a lousy job of cooking for her little brother, Nick (Robert Oliveri), while mom is away working. Nick emulates his inventor father, and takes his own, smaller model of Wayne’s pet project up to the attic to visit: a device that can shrink items. Wayne sees this as his ticket to success, not to mention allaying his wife’s fears and earning him the recognition he feels he deserves. There is only one catch: it has yet to properly function, as evidenced by the apple it exploded when he tests it. Nonetheless, he must bring his findings to the local university and try and convince them of its viability. He gets laughed out of the building. In the meantime, the next-door neighbors, the Thompsons, are preparing to go camping. Their bustling activity leaves little time for their youngest son, Ron (Jared Rushton), to practice hitting a baseball with his dad or brother. Disappointed, but determined, he takes the bat and ball into the backyard, throws the ball into the air, and makes solid connection with the bat. His older brother, Little Russ (Thomas Wilson Brown), his father being Big Russ (Matt Frewer), happens upon Ron just as the baseball goes through the Szalinski’s attic window. The ball impacts Wayne’s machine, causing a spark of wires and for it to turn on and firing laser beams at random intervals around the room. Remarkably, it is functioning as it is designed, shrinking everything it touches. Little Russ takes Ron to the Szalinski’s to apologize and retrieve their ball, and it gives Little Russ the opportunity to speak to Amy on whom he has a crush. This leaves Nick to escort Ron upstairs, putting them in the machine’s line of fire and downsizing them to a near microscopic level. When Amy and Little Russ go up to investigate what is taking the boys so long, they undergo the same process. Not long thereafter, Wayne returns from his disastrous pitch to find that the kids are nowhere to be found. Next door, Big Russ and his wife, Mae (Kristine Sutherland), cannot find their own offspring, which is a pressing matter given that they are due to soon leave. When Wayne heads into the attic, he finds some broken parts, the baseball, and notices that his favorite couch is missing. He also cannot hear the inaudible squeaks of the tiny children on the floor. Instead, he gets out a broom and starts cleaning up the detritus, unknowingly sweeping up the kids with it. They are then dumped into a garbage bag and taken outside. Along the way, Big Russ asks Wayne if he has seen his children, an awkward conversation given that Big Russ thinks the Szalinski’s are a bit weird. At first, everyone believes that the young ones will eventually appear. For the young ones, after cutting a hole plastic, they must make their way through the backyard. At their current size, this is a journey of a couple miles, in a jungle with grass as tall as the highest forest canopy, and insects the size of tanks. As time goes on, and they deal with one misadventure after another (including Little Russ and Nick going for a ride on the back of bees), their parents become more worried, which is heightened when Diane returns from work. It is only when Wayne sees the missing, miniscule couch, does he realize what has happened. Their pleas to the police, and spending time carefully combing through their lawn in hopes of finding the kids, are all to no avail. After spending the night in a discarded Lego block, our four tiny tots (okay, they are not toddlers, but I am running out of adjectives) are found by the Szalinski family dog, who had been aware of them the entire time. Climbing aboard the canine, they make their way into the kitchen and Nick into Wayne’s bowl of Cherrios. It is there that Wayne finally notices his son. With the Thompsons informed about what is going on, they are all on hand to see their kids go back to their proper size.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a fine piece of family cinema. It is meant to be viewed by that time-honored social unit. One of the goals for The Legionnaire is not necessarily to review films that my fellow Catholics would all agree to be acceptable to all audiences. As such, I can go on for a while about the good values that are to be found in this movie. In this case, let us take a different look at the motion picture under discussion. One of the things about Faith is that it gives one perspective. As we go about our daily lives, it is easy to forget that we are not the center of creation. When things are going well, we feel like masters of our environs. When things are going bad, it seems like the entire world is conspiring against us. God is so much bigger than either of these two extremes, so much bigger than us. Indeed, in comparison to the whole of Creation, we are incomparably smaller than the size the kids in the movie. At the same time, this is not how God sees us, as nothing more than insects, barely worth His notice. If His love for us individually could be measured (which it cannot be), it would be as limitless as the that same Creation that He spoke into being. Unfortunately, the film does not present this lesson, of giving the characters a better perspective on their place in the universe. This is why I am here for you.
If you want to watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, you can find it on Disney+. As I said in the previous paragraph, it is a perfectly acceptable movie to watch for the entire family. There is a certain charm to it, as well, or call it nostalgia if you like. Memories of the old playground at Disney’s Hollywood Studios aside, there is a lot to say about when the film was made and the special effects employed. Ultimately, that is why you view it because there are some fun moments that are had with the concept of people lowered down to the level of an ant.