Apr 9 2010

Article XXI – In Which I Deal with Shrinkage…Heh

New tradition: after every ten articles, I get a week off.  No arguments from the little people.  Or my superiors.  You can have my badge and my gun if you want, but I need some Fil time.  Interesting little tidbit too – this is the first in a two-part series on sci-fi movies that have to do with shrinking.  Excited?  No?  Fine, you can just get the hell out.  I don’t need riffraff like you reading my column.  I’m famous, dammit.

This week (possibly even last week) I watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids…93 minutes and released in 1989.  For the record, my editor was five months old when this was released.  I was 4.  So anyways, the movie comes from Disney, which decided that it wanted a movie about shrinkage (haha).  Originally they bought the script which was called Teenie Weenies, which execs rightfully thought might sound too kidsy – so they changed it to The Big Backyard, which was a little better, but not by much.  Eventually someone decided that was lame too and the movie was renamed again.  I’d also like to say that Teenie Weenies as a title might have brought in business from people mistaking the title for something else.

The movie takes place entirely over the span of one weekend, and essentially focuses on the bungling Wayne Szalinski’s amazing shrinking device, which he cannot get to work properly.  Marital problems follow because he’s so involved in his work…that doesn’t work…and long story short, his two kids and the two kids from next door are involved in a terrible accident where they are blown up shrunk.  They are swept up into a garbage bag and placed on the other side of their monstrous lawn.  Quest: to get back to the house without being eaten, chopped up, or stepped on.

Overall, the acting is pretty good.  Rick Moranis (RIP from acting) is really entertaining and nails his role perfectly.  To this day, when I think of bumbling scientists, I think he’s the one that pops into my head the most.  Not only is he brilliant and forgetful, but he’s socially awkward as well.  One of the best lines in the movie is when he begins to explain shrinking to his meat-headed next door neighbor and begins, deadpan, with “This is a microscope,” as if no one who isn’t a scientist would know what a microscope is.  If you don’t find this as funny as I do, then clearly you have no sense of humor.

The kids even do a decent job.  Unfortunately, after this, none of them really went on to do anything.  None except, that is, Robert Oliveri, who went on to star in a couple more Honey movies as well as an appearance in Edward Scissorhands.  Anyways, the point is, each of the actors in the movie really hit their roles perfectly.  A mall obsessed teen; a socially awkward high school loner, a sports obsessed nut, and a wannabe inventor/scientist have the potential to make some really funny interactions.

"It's true! I chopped him up. But I didn't kill him!"

Good God, I’ve talked for far too long about the acting.  Of course, the real treat of this film is its focus on special effects, props, and scenery.  Since a lot of the film takes place in the overgrown backyard lawn, grass and flowers are like giant buildings.  A Lego block is the size of a house.  Naturally, the creatures in the yard are similarly gigantic.  Giant ants, bees, and a scorpion make appearances as well.  There’s a bit with a giant oatmeal cookie too.  While the size comparison sometimes doesn’t work (they’re supposed to be ¼ of an inch tall, yet they can ride comfortably on an ant) and a lot of the science is off (such as them referring to the ant as a “baby”), it makes for a really fun experience.  Even though everyone knows that being shrunk probably wouldn’t be fun at all.  It would be terrifying.

Another of my favorite parts of the movie, which for some reason has stuck with me since the first time I saw it, was the scene where Nick is in the bowl of Cheerios and Wayne is about to eat him.  The picture of this tiny voice yelling, “No, Dad, don’t eat meeeeeeee! Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhh,” is almost as iconic in my own mind as The Fly’s, “Help meeeeee,” in his cute little tiny voice.

Umm, is there really anything more to say about this film?  Yes, the score.  The score for this film is amazing.  James Horner does the soundtrack, and his throwback to Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse theme gives Szalinski’s machinery and wacky inventions an air of busy menace.  It also sort of brings up feelings of old school Warner Bros. Cartoons.  It’s perfect and one of those things that will probably stay with you as you walk away from this film.  That’s right, not only do I review movies, but music as well!  I’m a Renaissance Man.

I have to give a little background on my viewing experience with this movie.  As a kid, this was one of my favorites.  The science fiction aspect of it was awesome, the set pieces and giant creatures really pleased my little brain.  I really thought that giant props (the giant Lego, etc.) were the coolest thing I had ever seen.  I wanted to be shrunk down and have a super cool adventure where I could ride bugs and fight scorpions and swim in puddles.  The danger of such situations was lost in my 4 to7-year-old mind.

Somewhere in this bowl of Cheerios...there is a boy. A boy...who will be mistakenly eaten by his father.

Is it time for me to give you a little lecture on the science of this film?  I think it might be.

The entire premise of Szalinki’s shrinking machine is that there is space in atoms that can be utilized.  Between the protons and neutrons and electrons of atoms, there is a certain space that Szalinski says can be contracted to make better use of the amount of space people and matter take up.  From what I understand, this would require us to increase the density of whatever object we were trying to shrink.  And it would still be as heavy as it is in its normal state.  Which would be kind of cool.  But also very inconvenient.  There are, of course, some size inconsistencies as well, with how big certain things should be, and a question about why there might be a giant scorpion in the Szalinskis’ backyard…but who cares?  It’s fun.

In case you didn’t understand my views on this movie, I liked it.  There – I’ll even bold it so you don’t have to read the whole thing.  Why couldn’t I have put that at the beginning?  Because then you wouldn’t have read all my other nonsensical ramblings.  And if I’m to eventually turn you into a battle hardened army destined to take over the United States, then I need you reading EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. of my columns.

That about wraps this up for this week.  Next week is another article that has to do with shrinking…heh.

One Response to “Article XXI – In Which I Deal with Shrinkage…Heh”

  • Mitzi Says:

    I wanted a giant LEGO for a club house or something. It looked cozy.

    No scorpion fights for me, though. I was a cautious child.

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