One of the most apt descriptions applied to any form of entertainment is when we put “popcorn” in front of “movie” or “flick”. That is as perfect an adjective as you can use to describe countless experiences I have had in the theater. Sometimes you don’t want to see something like Citizen Kane, but you don’t want to see something as stupid as Howard the Duck or some of Adam Sandler’s performances. You just want to grab a tub of popcorn and enjoy 90 minutes to two hours of pure, unadulterated, magnificent fun.
That’s where movies like 1989’s “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” come in.
I just turned 11 years old when it came out. I remember the trailers and being blown away by the premise and the special effects. And it had Rick Moranis! It was a must-see for my family. We were there opening weekend as part of my birthday.
And it delivered. Seeing the shrunken kids interact with gigantic insects, water drops and blades of grass was exhilarating. The ride on the bee was especially captivating. Rick Moranis, whom we knew and loved from two Ghostbusters movies and Spaceballs, was delightful as the nerdish, failed genius inventor husband and dad.
But it had more than just what the previews showed. It had some unexpected heart, notably the storyline with the ant. And Matt Frewer was also fantastic in his role opposite Moranis as the domineering, jock dad. That role could have easily been a throwaway stereotype, but Frewer delivered the goods. He and Moranis contrast superbly and play off of each other well.
The two wives and the four children are all likable enough and none detract at all from the plot. But make no mistake, this movie is memorable primarily due to the creative and well-executed journey of survival, with amazing visuals. And secondarily about the rivalry of two flawed but good fathers. Movies like Jurassic Park would come along a few years later and really blow us out of the water to the next level, but for 1989 this was unprecedented cinema. It even had a hilarious Roger Rabbit cartoon short called “Tummy Trouble” to open it!
And seeing as how it was appropriate for even school-age children, it is a movie I was thrilled to revisit. So I can eventually show it to my son 3-year-old son Liam. The 80s were ripe with unique fantasy adventures that my family and i rewatched regularly, like Labyrinth and The Never Ending Story. Honey, I Shrunk The Kids remains as timeless as them but also warmer and more enjoyable in a familial sense. It holds up well 33 years after release.
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