The concept of “bumbling inventor” was a tried and true formula for Disney, dating all the way back to The Absent-Minded Professor. In 1989, they would dust off the concept and cast Rick Moranis in the role of eccentric genius. The result was the highly-successful Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
In the film, our loveable but bumbling professor, Wayne Szalinski, is diligently at work on a machine that shrinks objects using electromagnetic waves. It isn’t quite perfected yet and he is ridiculed by the scientific community as a result. Even his neighbor, Russ Thompson manages to get a few jabs in at his eccentric neighbor. Thankfully, he has the support of a loving family, including wife Diane, son Nick, and teenage angst-filled daughter, Amy. Next door neighbor “Big” Russ Thompson is having problems of his own with his offspring, “Little” Russ, who failed to make the football team, much to his dad’s embarrassment.
The problems magnify when Wayne accidentally leaves his electromagnetic shrinking machine turned on, and it is inadvertently hit by a stray baseball from the next door neighbors yard. When Little Russ and his even littler sibling Ron go to retrieve the ball, they, along with Wayne’s kids manage to get themselves shrunk down to a mere quarter-inch tall in the process. Their tiny voiceboxes are ill-equipped to alert their full sized father and he proceeds to sweep them into the trash. Left to fend for themselves, the kids must deal with a backyard lawn that now appears to be a scary forest full of huge insects and even huger sprinklers. In fact, every object becomes a formidable challenge, even a simple bowl of Cheerios.
Part of the magic of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is undoubtedly due to the wonderful special effects team that included Joe Johnson of Star Wars fame who treated viewers to an unforgettable ride atop a bee, as well as the many other larger-than-life scenarios the shrunken tykes were faced with. The film did surprisingly well and led, not only to a predictable sequel (Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,) but also a TV show (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), another direct-to-video sequel (Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves,) and even an attraction at Disneyland called Honey, We Shrunk the Audience. That’s a whole lot of shrinkin’ going on and it would seem the only thing this absent-minded inventor failed to shrink were box-office receipts.
If you have fond memories of watching this family film from the 80s, we welcome all of your recollections in our comments section.