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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Night At The Movies: Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

One thing that I was always known for in my grade school years was my obscenely tall frame (well, that, plus my chubbiness, but that is another issue altogether).

For many years, I was usually either the tallest or second-tallest kid in the entire class. And I was mostly okay with that. Nobody could make short jokes at my expense since hardly anyone in the class was my height. Certainly as we approached adulthood, many of them caught up to my height, but for those few years, I always seemed to stick out in a crowd because of my height.

I admit that maybe there were a couple of instances where I wished that I could have blended in more with my classmates, at least sizewise. Sometimes it wasn't always such a good thing to be so tall. I was always the prime target for gym class dodge ball games, and sometimes it was a bit annoying to have to be called 'big guy' all the time. Maybe it would have been nice to have been a smaller size so that I wouldn't stick out so long.

That was the case until 1989 when a particular Disney movie was released, and after seeing it, it made me reconsider my thoughts.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids was released in theaters nationwide on June 23, 1989, and the movie starred Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, and Matt Frewer. The film did very well financially, making over $220 million worldwide, and spawning two sequels (one released in theaters, one direct-to-video).

The movie detailed the adventures of four children who were accidentally shrunk down in size to no bigger than a quarter of an inch tall, and their struggle to get back to normal size.

Wayne Szalinski (Moranis) is a struggling inventor, desperately trying to come up with a successful invention, much to the annoyance of his wife Diane (Strassman). They have two children together. Amy (Amy O'Neill) is their teenage daughter who is addicted to rock music and shopping, while Nick (Robert Oliveri) wants to be an inventor/scientist just like his father.

The Szalinski's next door neighbours are the Thompsons. Russ Thompson Sr. (Frewer) gets increasingly annoyed by Wayne's inventions, and dismisses the Szalinski family as being one of the weirdest families he's ever laid eyes on. He and his wife Mae have two children of their own. Ron (Jared Rushton), a teenage boy who loves baseball and loves picking on Nick Szalinski), and Russ Jr. (Thomas Wilson Brown), the Thompson's older son who appears to have a crush on Amy.

One fateful day, Ron is playing baseball in his backyard and accidentally hits a baseball through the attic window of the Szalinski home. The baseball manages to hit one of Wayne's inventions, a shrink ray that hadn't been perfected yet (rather than shrinking things, it made them explode). Ron, Russ, Nick, and Amy head upstairs to the attic so Ron can retrieve their ball, not realizing that the ball had turned the machine on. The positive was that the ball ended up blocking one of the laser beams, so the machine wasn't powerful enough to make the kids explode. But it did shrink them, Wayne's thinking couch, and a nearby chair to miniature size.

As if this situation wasn't bad enough, Wayne comes home after a very bad day at work, and takes out his frustration on his machine. To the horror of the shrunken children, Wayne destroys the shrink ray and the pieces scatter all over the floor. Afterwards, Wayne grabs a broom and dustpan and cleans up the mess he made, not even aware of the fact that he was sweeping up the four children right into the trash. The kids were bagged, tagged, and left out in the backyard.

The kids manage to find a way out of the trash bag, and find themselves in the middle of their backyard, which greatly resembles an oversized jungle of weeds, grass, and flowers. The task for the kids now was to get back home. However, being small in size, what normally would have taken a few seconds would now take several hours. They decide to climb up a flower stem in order to see just how far away the house was from where they were, almost getting attacked by a gigantic bee in the process. During the struggle with the bee, Nick and Russ end up separated from Amy and Ron.

As all this is going on, Wayne discovers the remains of what was left of his thinking couch (he accidentally stepped on it while he was cleaning up the attic). He then comes to the grave realization that he accidentally shrunk his own children, who had not been seen for several hours by this point. He informs his wife about this development (which she does not take well at all, but then again, how would you react if you were told that your children accidentally got shrunk?), and then decide to tell the neighbours, who are also worried about where their children might be.

Not realizing that their children were just a few feet away.

Wayne decides to check out in the backyard in order to find his children (who ended up reuniting with each other after the bee incident). Unfortunately, while he searched for the children, he accidentally turns on the sprinkler system, causing Amy to almost drown. Luckily for Amy, Russ saves her life by giving her CPR. Afterwards, the group decides to try and find their way back home. Along the way they find a meal in a gigantic cookie, they sleep inside a Lego block, and they encounter a friendly ant (whom Ron gives the name of Antie) who helps them travel at a much faster rate of speed. Sadly, along the way, the kids are attacked by a scorpion who has every intention of killing them, and Antie ends up making the ultimate sacrifice to save them.

An act of heroism and selflessness if ever I saw one.

It certainly makes one take a second glance at things that may seem insignificant at first look, doesn't it?

I guess in this case, it is all a matter of perspective. On any given day to those kids, they may not have thought anything of a small ant. It was only after they shrunk down to smaller than an ant that they realized just how much they owed their lives to their ant friend.

I guess that's the whole point to why I wanted to talk about this movie in general, and how it kind of relates to my opening paragraph. Certainly my size growing up was much bigger than that of my classmates, but it didn't really define who I was as a person. It was just one characteristic that in the long run didn't really matter. It didn't matter how small or how tall a person really was. All that mattered is the skills that a person had.

Now, I know I promised that I would not reveal any ending of a Monday Matinee, and I still stand by this position.

Seeing as how this is a Tuesday though, I suppose I could let some secrets slip if you haven't seen this movie yet. Obviously, I let it slip that this movie had two sequels, so it's a given that somehow all four kids get back to normal size. But how they get that way is an adventure and a half.

I know I'll never look at a bowl of Cheerios quite the same way again.

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