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Film review: Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

Published: Wednesday, July 22 1992 12:00 a.m. MDT

In "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," nerdy scientist Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) came up with an invention that would shrink matter. But when his kids (and a couple of neighbors) triggered it, they accidentally shrunk themselves, leading to comic complications.

What really made that film cross over to an older audience, however, was the warmth of the family more than the slapstick of the gimmick. It's unfortunate that the inevitable sequel, "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid," abandons the first film's sense of character and leans more heavily toward gimmick. But the players are charming enough to carry us through it all, and there are some clever gags and eye-popping special effects.

In "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid," Moranis is back as Wayne, now working for a huge scientific research company in Nevada. This time, he's trying to unravel the secrets of making things bigger, and, in case you've been in a cave and missed the commercials, he accidentally triggers his latest device when his 2-year-old toddler Adam (played by twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar) wanders into the line of fire. As a result, the baby grows by leaps and bounds — his first growth spurt putting him at 7 feet. He ultimately becomes 50 feet tall and heads for the bright lights of Las Vegas, causing no end of havoc.

There's no question that "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" is a one-joke movie, but it's a pretty cute joke. And it's certainly better than the average children's picture these days. Still, this one may not be quite as appealing to adults as its predecessor.

The film opens as we again meet the Szalinski family (Marcia Strassman, Robert Oliveri and Amy O'Neill reprise their roles as Mom and the kids — though O'Neill immediately goes off to college and isn't heard from again). They've been uprooted and transplanted to a Nevada suburb, but they're still surrounded by all those crazy gadgets Wayne builds to "simplify" household duties.

Wayne is working for an eccentric industrial magnate (Lloyd Bridges) as part of a team headed by a snobbish scientist (John Shea) who has no respect for Wayne's work, and who's plottingwith a board member (Gregory Sierra) to take over the company.

None of this really matters much, however, as the film is really more about Adam growing to ridiculous proportions while his parents try to shrink him back to a manageable size. Most of the film's humor has to do with Adam being in the midst of the terrible twos, thereby being more demanding and less inclined to listen to orders from parents who appear to be ants. There are some clever gags along the way and the "big" jokes are not so overused that they wear out their welcome. It also moves along at a fast enough clip to keep the attention of children for its feature length.

There are some odd lapses in logic, however. At the end of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," we see Wayne reverse the process with his machine to bring his children back to normal height. Then, the final shot has the family enjoying a huge turkey at Thanksgiving, which leads us to believe he has perfected it.

Yet this sequel's entire plot is built around his being unable to enlarge things in the Nevada lab setting. There is also a scene here in which Wayne uses his old, original machine to shrink a pair of motorcycle cops and then im-me-di-ate-ly bring them back to their original size.

But, hey, whoever said logic had a place in movies? Much less kids' movies.

For trivia buffs out there, this film would seem to be a direct take on the old '50s sci-fi thriller "The Amazing Colossal Man," in which a man grew to be 60 feet tall and went on a rampage in Las Vegas.

"Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" is rated PG for comic violence, but there's really nothing offensive.

— "OFF HIS ROCKERS" is a delightful cartoon playing with "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid." Though very entertaining in its own right, this 5-minute short also has something to say about modern children's toys — specifically video games — vs. those of another era that force young minds to reach into their imaginations. Ironically, the short itself is largely composed of computer-generated animation. And it's a four-star "wow" every step of the way.