Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

note: I am very much aware that I’m way behind and the summer movie season is over but I’m gonna keep going and finish this Weird Summer retrospective. Enjoy! Please?

July 17, 1992

HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID is the first sequel to the 1989 Joe Johnston directed Walt Disney hit HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS. Last time, eccentric inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis, STREETS OF FIRE)’s machine accidentally shrunk his and the neighbors’ kids to, by one kid’s estimation, “the size of boogers.” This time he accidentally causes his new toddler son Adam (played by twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar) to grow in spurts until he becomes basically a kaiju.

It’s directed by Randal Kleiser (THE BLUE LAGOON) and written by Thom Eberhardt (writer/director of NIGHT OF THE COMET) and Peter Elbling (Mr. T’s Be Somebody… or Be Somebody’s Fool!) & Garry Goodrow (The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour). A story credit goes to Goodrow (who was also an actor in Shirley Clarke’s THE CONNECTION), so I suspect that means he was the one who wrote BIG BABY, an unrelated giant baby script that was rewritten to fit into the HONEYverse. In that sense, the HONEY saga is much like the DIE HARD series.

There are also “based on characters created by” credits for Stuart Gordon & Brian Yuzna & Ed Naha (Gordon was set to direct the first one until his doctor said it would give him a heart attack). Gordon would’ve probly been off doing FORTRESS around this time, so I don’t mind that they didn’t give him a shot.

Disney also ended up paying $300,000 to Paul Alter (the original director of Family Feud), when he convinced a jury that they stole the idea from a giant toddler treatment called NOW, THAT’S A BABY! that he submitted to them in 1980. I don’t know, man. I don’t know.

After the events of the first film, Wayne, his wife Diane (Marcia Strassman, FAST GETAWAY), daughter Amy (Amy O’Neill, …WHERE’S RODNEY?) and son Nick (Robert Oliveri, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) decided to never tell anyone about the shrinking incident and move to Vista Del Mar, Nevada. Amy immediately leaves for college, and we don’t see her again, reportedly because there was no comparable character in the BIG BABY script. Whoops.

Wayne now works for a company called Sterling Labs, developing the technology further to try to make an enlarging ray. His boss Hendrickson (John Shea, FREEJACK) openly hates and disrespects him, so Wayne seems to represent the pure artist who’s in it for the love, working with people who don’t understand or appreciate his vision. The movie doesn’t really address the obvious immorality of Wayne giving such dangerous technology to people who absolutely can’t be trusted to use it ethically or responsibly. For a while it works as a critique of people who are oblivious to their complicity in bad shit, though that’s clearly not the intent.

Shit, Wayne. What the fuck?

At almost the hour mark, though, they bring in the namesake of the company, Clifford Sterling (Lloyd Bridges, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO), as if he’s gonna be a bastard. Instead he fires Hendrickson and teams up with Wayne to try to stop/save the giant baby, acting like a kindly old grandpa. Don’t worry, we got nice guys like this running all the military contractors. It’ll be fine.

(Also they pull a DIE HARD 2 and give Mom a reason to sock Hendrickson in the face.)

Meanwhile, Nick is going through a teenage crisis because he has a huge crush on a girl named Mandy (first time actor Keri Russell, later known for stealing Jack Noseworthy from Carla Gugino in a Bon Jovi video, not sure what she did after that), and worries that he’s too much of a nerd for her to like him. He tries to talk to her while at his job selling hot dogs at a Las Vegas water park (Wet ’n Wild, 1985-2004), but it ends in humiliation. Fortunately, she’s also slotted to babysit Adam the night he turns giant, so they get to know each other better (I guess) while going on a size-changing adventure together. It’s actually every teenage boy’s dream that he would spend an evening trapped in a giant baby’s overalls with his crush.

Now that’s a baby!

As with the first film, much of the fun is in seeing then-modern effects processes applied to an old fashioned shrinking/growing movie. Of course the compositing doesn’t look completely real, but these days that makes it kinda charming. Though you can see the seams, it’s still impressive to see all these shots of Adam running around the house almost reaching the ceiling. There’s one part where I think they used an actor in a giant baby suit and if I’m right about that it’s pretty cool how convincingly baby-like his movements are.

The other thing that’s impressive is how much of an actual baby performance they got out of these two kids who must be under 3 years old. It seems like Moranis got a really good rapport going with them because there are scenes where the kid is talking baby talk but going back and forth with Moranis like it’s a conversation.

HONEY I BLEW UP THE KID crawled so FLUBBER could soar

It sounds like to many involved the idea was “wouldn’t it be fun if a baby was giant like Godzilla?” But unlike the first film, there’s not enough to explore with this premise to keep it from getting tiresome pretty quick. HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS is, in my opinion, a solid family fantasy adventure type movie. Its simple goofy premise (a badly hit baseball hits Dad’s shrink ray, makes the kids tiny and forces them to take a dangerous journey across the backyard and into the house to try to get Dad’s attention) is executed colorfully with all kinds of inventive FX of the late-pre-digital era (stop motion, puppets, oversized sets, forced perspective). And it really taps into childhood daydreams because it turns familiar backyard items into a fantastical world (giant blades of grass, ants, bees, toys, dogs, etc.). This sequel has some of the fun FX but the premise just isn’t as cool – a toddler turning into a kaiju is cute, but not feature length cute. They don’t want him to destroy the city or bite people’s heads off or anything, so there’s not that much for him to do. It’s one of those movies where the last act is you watching a bunch of people watching a thing happen. And the character in the odd predicament can’t speak complete sentences, so we have to spend more time on Dad just running around trying to fix it. To squeeze in some of that kid point-of-view and people eating oversized candy they make up a pretty dumb subplot about Nick and Mandy being carried around in the baby’s pocket.

Oh, by the way, can you guess whether or not there’s a part where Japanese tourists see Adam and point and say “Godzilla!”? And if so, would you think they would be holding cameras and take pictures? If you grew up in this era I bet you know the answer.

No, THAT’S a baby!

I found this movie about as tedious as anything in the Weird Summer series so far, but thankfully there were a few little things that appeal to my interests and kept me semi-occupied. As I’ve mentioned in reviews of VEGAS VACATION and PERDITA DURANGO, I enjoy seeing scenes shot on Fremont Street in Las Vegas, since I’ve spent some time there, and this one sets the whole climax there, right by Binions and the Golden Nugget and the cowboy sign (which they make talk – it makes no sense).

The Szalinski house is stocked with Wayne’s various fanciful inventions, one of which is a toast-making Rube Goldberg device in the kitchen that’s definitely reminiscent of the one in PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I mention that because that’s another movie that Kleiser sequelized (with BIG TOP PEE-WEE, a great movie that is very underrated because it’s not BIG ADVENTURE). In further Pee-wee connections, John Paragon (Jambi) and Suzanne Kent (Miss Renee) both have bit parts.

SNL’s Julia Sweeney (GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH) gets the first line in the movie – she and Linda Carlson (Newhart) play unnamed “Nosey Neighbors” who think the Szalinskis are weird and consider reporting their weird mechanical mailbox to the Vista Del Mar Standards Committee. And TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2’s Bill “Chop Top” Moseley is in one scene as a federal marshall.

As per usual I tried to study the posters on the walls of the kids’ bedrooms for period detail. To show Nick is a nerd he has some astronomy related posters, to show he’s a teen he has a UNLV basketball poster and some of his favorite musicians, which apparently include Steve Vai (he plays, or at least pretends to play, guitar) and circa Apocalypse ’91: The Enemy Strikes Black Public Enemy!

I also noticed that Nick and Mandy both have a poster for some weird group called The Party, and I thought it was to show that they share tastes in music, but it turns out it was corporate synergy: when I looked it up I learned they were a Disney-Channel-created pre-fab pop group made up of All New Mickey Mouse Club cast members. The name was made up by some kid who entered a contest, and then they said it stood for “Positive Attitude Reflects Today’s Youth.” They opened for Taylor Dane, Vanilla Ice and Color Me Badd, and appeared on an episode of Blossom. Their biggest hit was a cover of Dokken’s “In My Dreams.” They also had a kind of Prince rip off song produced by Dr. Dre!

In the end of course Mandy kisses Nick on the cheek “for saving my life” (boys love fantasizing about that shit). Similar to REVENGE OF THE NERDS III, Nick is accepted as a nerd. “You’re kind of different, Nick. Like your dad,” she says. “But when you think about it, I guess the world needs people who are different. People who see things a little differently, I guess you could say.”

That’s very charitable of her, especially considering that earlier the same day when she first saw the enlarged baby she fainted, and when she woke up Nick had her tied up and gagged and then he pulled down the gag and fed her some water before untying her. I hate to deride weirdos, especially in this pro-weirdo review series, but this kid is definitely the bad kind of weirdo. Get the hell out of there, girl. Definite future super villain.

HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID opened at #1 (as wide release kids movies often do) and though it ultimately made less than half what the first film did, that was still 3 times its budget. It got mixed reviews, which is fair, and maybe charitable. I don’t blame them for trying, but it’s a good argument for not everything needing a sequel.



In 1994, Kleiser and the cast (including the twins) reunited to make the Disney World attraction Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!, which replaced Captain EO. It was actually really clever – a 3D movie (plus in-theater effects like giant fans blowing on you) simulating that you’re in the audience for a scientific demonstration that goes awry and sends enlarged insects and stuff flying around the theater. So it’s not shot like a movie, it’s done as one stationary shot as if unfolding on the stage in front of you.

I honestly don’t remember this happening, but in 1997 the legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey made his directorial debut with a DTV sequel, HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES. Moranis returned, but the rest of the family was recast. The same year, the Disney Channel started a 66-episode run of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show, now with Peter Scolari replacing Moranis. Now, Moranis has signed on to come out of retirement for a straight-to-Disney+ sequel called SHRUNK, with Johnston returning as director and Josh Gad taking over as Nick. No word on if Keri Russell will play his ex-wife who had to go into hiding to get away from him. Filming was delayed because of Covid, but it sounds like they’re still doing it.

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30 Responses to “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid”

  1. According to the making of advertisement that ran on TV before the movie hit theatres, a surprising amount of the script was improvised, based on whatever the toddlers would do, since you can’t teach them to memorize reaction or hit their marks on cue. Say what you want about the results, but that’s pretty remarkable for such an FX heavy movie.

    I never saw the TV show, but heard often from people that it was “surprisingly good for what it is”. And Stuart Gordon even directed one episode, so I guess he was actually into the concept he created and it wasn’t just a paycheck thing for him, that he gladly passed on to others while he collected residuals.

  2. Oh man, they finally got to Moranis, huh? I really respected that he was legit done with Hollywood and no amount of money would change his mind. I mean, infamous guy-who-gives-no-fucks-about-your-bullshit Bill Murray stopped GHOSTBUSTERS III from getting made for literal decades, but he still gave in and cameoed in both reboots and even a video game, I think. Moranis was like “Nah, keep your money. I’m good.” But he comes back for SHRUNK? That’s a bummer to me. He can do what makes him happy, obviously, and maybe I’m just being cynical, but I really can’t see him wanting to reprise Wayne Fuckin’ Szalinski purely for creative reasons. I guess they get us all eventually.

  3. Let’s be honest, Moranis will forever have the world’s respect for leaving his Hollywood fame behind (with the occasional voice over job) to raise his kids after a personal tragedy. If he wants to go back into the game by cashing in a surely big paycheck for a straight-to-streaming legacy sequel that will instantly raise his market value just by existing, he doesn’t need our blessing.

  4. For whatever reason, I was a huge fan of the original as a kid. I think mostly it was because of how they transformed the mundane back yard, which really appealed to a kid’s yearning that there’s something exciting just under the surface of boring old suburbia. It’s a theme I always loved in kids movies growing up. Unfortunately, when you become an adult, you realize that it’s not true in the least.

    I saw the sequel in the theaters with my family, and I think my reaction was mostly, “Okay. He’s big. Now what?” The first film has so much fun with the premise–using an ant as a means of transportation, eating a giant Little Debbie snack–but there’s not much you can do with a giant baby. Looking back on it, it was clearly a mistake to set the film in Las Vegas instead of New York or Chicago where the baby can get into even more mischief and maybe climb more shit.

  5. CJ: Obviously Rick Moranis can do whatever the hell he wants with his life. I’m not saying he sold out or anything. I just thought it was cool that there was just one (1) motherfucker out there completely immune to the pull of the Perpetual Reboot Machine.

  6. I think the original was a pretty perfect family/adventure movie. So fun and so imaginative. The sequel, not so much, for all the reasons that Vern mentioned. Them getting any kind of performance out of a kid that young is always impressive though . I will go on record as saying that although it’s not MJ, the Disney attraction was a worthy successor to Captain EO.

  7. The attraction looks even in its YouTube form like a lot of fun. And it has a certain visual energy that this movie is missing. Granted, this is a 4D shortfilm, but it makes you with they put that much excitement into this movie

    Honey, I Shrunk the Audience at Epcot (2010) (60fps)

    Come back with us to 2010, just as Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was on it's way out to make way for Captain EO (again), and relive this classic 3D attraction...

  8. Vern, I’m still here for Weird Summer even if it takes until Thanksgiving. Time is a construct. You can’t stop before Mo Money or Stay Tuned, let alone the first of the dueling Christopher Columbus movies.

    Keeping in mind it’s been decades since I saw either, but at the time I liked Blew Up more. I guess I was into the giant baby smash jokes more than giant bugs and cheerios.

    Had a crush on Keri Russell too. Too bad she never went on to Star in a long running tv series. She would’ve been great.

    I hope Shrunk gives me an opportunity to interview Moranis. Maybe that’s selfish of me but I want to see more Moranis, as long as he’s happy (presuming his kids are all grown up it sounds like the timing works out.)

  9. Grimgrinningchris

    September 5th, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    CJ- The part with the snake is absolutely terrifying for children. I speak from experience and at least three different children that I’ve been out to that attraction with

  10. Grimgrinningchris

    September 5th, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Also,Eric Idle

  11. Caught snatches of this on TV and it only confirmed my suspicion this is nowhere as good as the charming original which I’ve watched any number of times. Also, in my neck of the woods where some American Slang hasn’t travelled, the title was a butt of jokes among my friends. A first read of it conjured images of Rick Moranis strapping explosives to his child and later sheepishly confessing to his wife “Errr, Honey..I think I used too much C4, the kid is now all over the backyard…”

  12. The only thing I remember about this is that shot of the baby walking down Vegas, but I know that my family and I enjoyed this quite a bit and more than the first, which I know I didn’t like at all. Not saying I stand by any of that (although catching bits and pieces of it on TV over the years I get the sense I’m still not a big SHRUNKer), just telling you my truth.

    KayKay has reminded me that I had to have “Blow Up” explained to me in this context, not sure how much of that was American slang vs youthful inexperience; around the same time I not only had not heard the phrase “family values”, I somehow had not heard the word “values”, so when I saw the poster for ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES I thought “values” meant “sequel”.

    I don’t think I ever saw an episode of the TV series, but I remember it being advertised during the period I was watching Disney Channel UK (it looks like “Honey, We’re Stuck in the ’70s” is the episode I particularly remember from the ads). At the time Disney Channel UK had a gimmick where the interstitials between the shows were hosted by a couple of rapscallions with outrageous 90s tude who were “hacking the Disney channel from their van”; after a while these scamps were in-universe found out by the Mouse and, gasp!, offered a chance to do some legit hosting duties for the channel, which they totally accepted, Xander Cage-style. In retrospect this was probably Disney getting my generation primed to accept the increasing influence they would come to have over all our lives.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts on, or at least around, HONEY, I BLEW UP THE BABY.

  13. I am of the opinion that HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS is an all-time classic of my youth. Watched the VHS a zillion times. But I must confess I am also a BLEW UP THE KID apologist. I remember in grade school I listed this as my favorite movie in some silly survey worksheet they made all the kids do– probably because I had just seen it the day before and thought it was great.

    I revisited both films a couple years back, and I still like this one. The seemingly improvised moments between Moranis and the kid(s) are super charming, I like the goofy tone and effects, and for whatever reason the climax really works for me (SPOILERS!: They blow up the mom). I’m not saying it’s a secretly superior sequel like GREMLINS 2 or a high water mark for early ’90s pop culture, but it’s cute and fun and it works better than it has any right to.

    Haven’t mustered up the courage to rewatch WE SHRUNK OURSELVES yet, though.

  14. Also of note that BLEW was released with a supporting animated short called OFF HIS ROCKERS, which combines early CGI 3D with FAMILY DOG era Brad Bird-ish traditional animation. SHRUNK had got a big boost from being released with the fist Roger Rabbit short TUMMY TROUBLE, a following short was released with DICK TRACY, and this short got director Barry Cook the job on a third Roger Rabbit short which played with A FAR OFF PLACE before Spielberg took his ball, said “p-p-p-please!” and left. I doubt OFF HIS ROCKERS helped the Box Office much, but it’s quite charming, and has more than a hint of a certain very popular series that would start in the near future.

    Off His Rockers (1992) (4K)

    A 4K version of the 1992 Walt Disney short "Off His Rockers", originally attached to Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, scanned from a 35mm print. Directed by Barry C...

  15. (Incidentally the short has only ever been officially released on Laserdisc)

  16. Never saw OFF HIS ROCKERS before, so I guess it didn’t play in Europe (Yes, I actually saw BLEW in theatres!), but it’s a technically really impressive and fun one, despite its “Those kids these days and their beepityboop telegames, when I was a kid I pretended to murder injuns with my friends outside!” vibe. Makes you wonder how much it influenced the existence TOY STORY, which by that point was probably already in pre-production.

  17. Personal fun fact: I really wanna rewatch SHRUNK for years. I only saw it once, when it premiered on TV. But I’m still not over the death of the baby ant.

  18. Thanks for that information, Pacman. I actually tried to research whether there was a short that played with it, since I remembered “Tummy Trouble” being on the first one, but I wasn’t able to find anything about it. I hadn’t seen or heard of this one before.

  19. You’re welcome, glad you (and CJ) find it interesting.

    I remember when TOY STORY was released in the UK it played with a re-release of ROLLERCOASTER RABBIT, and it looks like that might have have been the case in the US as well. I wanted to see A GOOFY MOVIE when it came out in the UK (18 months after the US release!) mostly because it played with RUNAWAY BRAIN, which I believe played in the US with A KID IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT.

  20. I saw the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids 4D short in Disney World back in the day, and I will also vouch for it. My favorite part is when they use some sort of multiplying ray on a mouse. Underneath the seats there are little air pumps that make it feel like mice are crawling up your legs, which works because this is Florida so basically everyone is wearing shorts. But the real kicker is that it doesn’t happen all at once. The people in front feel the effects of the air pump first and then it makes its way back. I was seated at the back of the theater, so I heard a bunch of people scream long before I felt the simulation of mice crawling up my legs. It was pretty damn cool to hear the screams get closer without knowing what was going on, and then finally understand. The whole set up was kind of brilliant.

  21. I would like to simply contribute that “…Where’s Rodney” totally rules and I was genuinely delighted to see it mentioned, and delighted all the moreso that it was referenced casually and without explanation.

    I hope that the IMDb classification of it being a TV movie was the reason for Vern-standard capitalization, although it being a totally awesome is a good reason for caps as well. … WHERE’S RODNEY is worth yelling about!

  22. This era was rife with comedies that weren’t funny but had really elaborate production design. I was pretty into it at the time, and I bet some of these hold up better than some of the funnier but more basic comedies of the era. Comedy is always evolving but good production design is eternal.

  23. Oops, meant to post this in the MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD thread.

  24. “Related Posts:
    The Virgin Spring
    Lethal Weapon
    Three the Hard Way
    Devilman (2004)”

    I don’t know how any of these relate to Honey, I Blew Up the Kid or to each other, but word up.

  25. Those Related Posts are so crazy I may contact the plugin author to see how the code matched any of those 😂😂😂

  26. The Virgin Spring has been a Related Post for every review the last few weeks. I thought it was a (pretty funny) joke lol

  27. Actually, I would be really interested in knowing how those matched as well. I’m a complete layperson, but the result is fascinating, so I have to imagine that the process is, too.

  28. You know, the outlawvern.com website is pretty great. Not just the writing and general aesthetic but also the layout and functionality. It is clearly lovingly maintained by a clever person who’s talented at a thing they’re passionate about. It’s simplicity and convenience are deluxe features of a premium website. It’s damn fine

  29. I was hoping you would cover this because for the last month and a half, I had been on a kick with these films. Now I grew up with “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” This one I remember my mom renting it and enjoying it. Granted, I was still a little boy at the time, but I kind of grew up as I remember watching this film on the Disney Channel and on ABC when it aired on a Saturday night (during the time when network channels used to show movies; hell, you don’t see local channels do that anymore, either). So I have watched this a decent amount of times. I still enjoy it enough that I bought the Blu Ray releases of the first two movies. I also must note that I didn’t watch the third film until 2011. I didn’t like it, but when I revisited not too long ago (as well as more than a decade since the first time I watched it), I enjoyed it more than before.

    I want to talk about the subplot involving Nick and Mandy. I’m not going to lie, that bit at the end was cute and I felt the chemistry between the two. Not just romantic onscreen chemistry, but it seemed that the two actors worked well with one another given that they were around the same age group (I wouldn’t doubt if the actor had a thing for Keri Russell on set, either). However, I do agree with your point about him tying her up and gagging her. I get that it was so that she wouldn’t blab about what she saw, but if I was to rewrite that scene, I would have had Nick carry Mandy to a couch or a bed so that she could rest and have it go down like when Diane (Marcia Strassman’s character) was trying to regain consciousness. Mandy could wake up and Nick could try to take care of her, as well as Adam, but Mandy wondered if what she saw was a dream but then she would scream if she saw Adam again. Nick could then try to explain it to her. He didn’t need to tie her up and gag her. I also must note that in that scene at that water park when the camera cut to her as Nick was leaving, I took it as maybe she didn’t think the guy was unattractive or anything. She also didn’t join her friends in the humiliation. Because this movie had various moments of foreshadowing, maybe that was one of them. I don’t know.

    As for the TV show, I remembered that a couple of local channels aired it in my area. What I mean is that one channel aired it during the first season, but then it moved to another channel when the second season came. That happens a lot for syndicated shows. I also watched some episodes when they aired. Back in the early-2010s, a cable channel called The Hub (later Discovery Family) had aired reruns of the TV show version and I watched more of it. I found it interesting with its concepts for episodes. Also, that version of Nick was played by the guy who would become John Connor in “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

  30. To answer the old question of how invested Stuart Gordon was in the HONEY franchise: There is an interview with his daughter on the Fangoria website and according to her, it all started out as a bedtime story that he made up for his kids, so I would say it wasn’t just his try of sell out to the mainstream for a bit.


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