Sneaking in at the end of the decade, Disney’s film Honey I Shrunk The Kids was released in 1989 and became a very successful kids comedy adventure film, spawning several sequels, a TV show and even an attraction at Disneyland!
Wayne Szalinski’s (Rick Moranis) is a struggling inventor who has been tinkering in his attic trying to invent a shrink ray, a machine that is capable of shrinking anything to a fraction of it’s original size. Initially tests of the device don’t go well, with the items to be shrunk usually ending up exploding, but all this is fixed when one of the next door neighbours kids throws a baseball through the window, knocking the machine. Wayne’s kids accompany the two boys from next door into the attic to retrieve the baseball, and find themselves shrunk to the size of ants in the process.
The kids try to raise the alarm but end up getting taken out with the rubbish, and find themselves in an even worse predicament, stuck at the bottom of the back garden. Given their newly reduced size they find the garden a particularly hazardous place to be, having to fend off giant insects (well, giant to them anyway), massive water droplets from the garden sprinkler and even a robot lawnmower!
Meanwhile, realising what has happened, Wayne goes searching for the kids in the back garden, rigging up a rope and pulley system which he dangles from whilst wearing a massive magnifying glass, so as not to crush the kids accidentally under foot.
Eventually the kids realise the quickest way to get back to the house is to hitch a ride on the pet dog, which is a bit of a hairy journey (sorry – couldn’t resist the bad pun). The danger still isn’t over though as although they get back indoors one of the kids falls into a bowl of breakfast cereal and is almost eaten by Wayne. Luckily, the dog stops Wayne in time and the kids are discovered and returned to their proper sizes.
This film was just perfect for Rick Moranis, and it’s a shame we don’t get to see him in films so much any more. He plays geeky or awkward characters (Louis Tully from Ghostbusters for example) so well, but there don’t seem to be many films made these days that require that sort of character. Nerds are always depicted as being much cooler now for some reason.
In 1992 the sequel Honey I Blew Up The Kid was released (although I’m convinced it was called Honey I Blew Up The Baby originally) in which Wayne’s two year old son is hit by the shrink ray in reverse, and ends up becoming taller than a house. In 1997 came Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, which I’ve never seen but I think I can guess what happens from the title…
The Disneyland attraction Honey I Shrunk The Audience is a very effective demonstration of 3D films. As part of the audience you are supposed to be watching an awards ceremony for Inventor of the Year, which is being awarded to Wayne for his shrink ray. Unfortunately the shrink ray gets turned on you, the audience, and you are supposed to have been shrunk in size. Everything appears on screen in giant proportions, and thanks to the special glasses you are given when entering items seem to pop out of the screen at you. Further excitement is added when the chairs you sit in start blowing air at you and squirting water, the latter being particularly funny as it is timed to happen when a massive dog sneezes at you!
For the TV series Wayne was played by Peter Scolari, but the shrink ray played much less of a part, with stories instead being based on many other inventions that Wayne had invented.
Finally, and a little confusingly, there is Honey The Kids Rule The World. This film features Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd but it doesn’t actually have anything to do with any of the other Honey… films. In fact, this film was released in 2001 in the US and was called Kids World. During the film Honey I Shrunk the Kids is referenced, so for the European DVD release in 2007 it was retitled, probably in the cynical hope that it would sell better because people would think it was a continuation of Wayne’s adventures.