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Film / Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

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Take equal parts of an unlucky scientist one step away from becoming a Mad Scientist, and a potential Weapon of Mass Destruction applied on four children, then top it off with the angst of said children. It is a comedy.

Stay at home inventor Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) invented a shrink ray. Which doesn't work. Yet. Due to a stray baseball it becomes fully functional and promptly shrinks his daughter, son and the neighbor's two sons. Wayne was absent, and is unaware of that his machine worked. After the idea of his machine is dismissed at a conference, Wayne breaks it in frustration, sweeps the broken glass up as well as the children, and then deposits them on the curb for trash collection. They cut their way out with a shard of glass, and begin an adventure across the unkempt lawn to get back home and unshrunk. They face many environmental hazards such as a bee, a scorpion, sprinkler system, automated lawn mower, and a cat, all of which are now infinitely more dangerous as the kids must learn to band together in order to survive... yes, we assure you this is a comedy. Meanwhile, Szalinski realizes the error of his ways, that the machine works and had accidentally shrunk the kids, and tries desperately to both fix the machine and find the kids in the grass in the yard.


Characters in the movie include:

  • Wayne Szalinski: The Smart Guy. Even though the roadblock he hit was overcome by a freak accident, that's how a surprising number of inventions came about.
  • Diane Szalinski: Mama Bear. She isn't happy with what happened to her family, though she doesn't become violent. At least not in this film...
  • Russ Thompson Sr: Papa Wolf. He was not happy, but he does turn out to be a genuinely nice guy, in spite of wishing his oldest son was "manlier."
  • Mae Thompson: Not quite Emotionless Girl, but she did take the news rather well.
  • Amy Szalinski: The Chick. Popular girl who likes boys and shopping.
  • Nick Szalinski: The Other Smart Guy Like father, like son. Allergic to nearly everything.
  • Russ Thompson Jr: The Lancer. Does not share his father's more "manly" interests like fishing and football. He warms up. Has a huge crush on Amy.
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  • Ron Thompson: The Generic Guy. Loves baseball and has a huge attitude problem, but becomes friendlier as the movie progresses.

There are several follow-ups focusing on the further adventures of Wayne and his family. Most don't have separate articles yet.

  • Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992): In which we meet the newest Szalinski — Adam, who becomes a very big baby indeed.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (1994): A Disney Theme Parks Short Film. Wayne's being honored as Inventor of the Year, but some demos of his latest inventions go wild...and The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You! (At Walt Disney World in Florida, a new character from this film, Dr. Nigel Channing [played by Eric Idle], was subsequently incorporated into other attractions in its host pavillion at Epcot.)
  • Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997): Wayne ends up shrinking himself along with Diane, his brother and sister in law. Now they have to navigate their cavernous home as pre-teen Adam throws a Wild Teen Party. Went Direct-to-Video.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show (1997-2000): More inventions, more problems for the Szalinskis in this three-season syndicated sitcom. The Other Wiki's entry on it posits that this is either an Alternate Continuity from the films or set between the first two; it features no movie cast members.

This series contains examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Wayne, of course.
  • Actor Allusion: One episode of the series had as a Running Gag references to "the guy from Bosom Buddies" - "Tom Hanks?" - "No, the other guy." — i.e., Peter Scolari, who plays Wayne in the show.
  • Adult Fear:
    Diane: Our daughter, alone, in the dark, with Russ Thompson Jr.
    Diane: They'd better behave themselves.
    • The whole series practically revolves around this. In the first film, Wayne and Diane go to great lengths to keep themselves and other people off the grass, and flip out on a friend of Nick's when he starts to mow the lawn. In the third film, the adults are helpless to do anything but watch as their kids throw an unauthorized party, which leads to teenage boys coming over and trying to make moves on the girls while bullying the boys.
    • Inverted in the first film when the kids find a discarded cigarette and Ron and Russ Jr. recognize the brand as the kind their father smokes. They exchange a quiet look, knowing that their father only smokes when he's worried about something.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: "Anty", the ant.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: The Thompsons have ample grounds for a lawsuit (see No OSHA Compliance entry below), but obviously do not file one.
  • Animated Credits Opening: They're very well done, too.
  • Anthropic Principle: Logic dictates that after the first film, Wayne Szalinski should be living in a billion-dollar science palace with at least two Nobel Prizes on his wall and his name in the books next to Einstein, Galileo, Newton, and Tesla, but then of course we wouldn't be able to continue having nutty suburban adventures about a bumbling scientist and his size-changing mishaps. The family does have more money and a larger house in each sequel, though, the setup of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience is that he's being honored with a presitigious fictional award that puts him on the level of the aforementioned, and he's the President of Szalinski Labs by the third.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: While Russ Sr has some legitimate issues with living next door to the Szalinskis, he also takes exception to the incredibly average sight of Amy dancing in the kitchen while cleaning.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Anty and the bee are both referred to as "he", when in reality worker ants and bees — basically any specimen you'd see outside the colony/hive — are female. While this could be an in-universe mistake on the kids' part, Nick seems learned enough to know better.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Mostly overshadowed by the Rule of Cool and the Rule of Funny. Decreasing the amount of empty space between molecules would indeed decrease an object's volume. However, since the amount of actual matter remains, it would do absolutely nothing to the object's mass. Thus, Wayne should not have been able to sweep them up. What you've done is increase the object's density. This greatly decreases the surface area over which their weight, defined in physics as the force generated by the acceleration of gravity acting upon mass, is distributed. This greatly increase the amount of pressure exerted upon the surfaces beneath their feet. Though the floorboards in his lab could probably have held them, once in the backyard, they should have sunk into the soft soil.
    • Two of the kids take a "ride" on a bee. They are flown all over the yard, which to them is 3 miles long. Despite the fact that in comparison size that bee is traveling at well over two hundred miles per hour, they do a remarkable job of hanging on. Maybe it's the lack of wind resistance.
  • Auto Kitchen
  • Bee Afraid: A giant bee accidentally picks up Nick when he's stuck in a flower.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Quark does this twice in the climax of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; first rescuing the kids from the backyard and bringing them inside the house, then in the next scene he bites Wayne's leg seconds before he accidentally eats Nick.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Amy shouts this at Ron, after Nick and Russ Jr. are carried off by the killer bee:
    Ron: We're never gonna find Russ now! It's all your stupid dad's fault!
    Amy: Shut up! My brother's up there, too!
  • Blame Game: Amy, for no reason at all, blames their predicament on Nick, even though he has nothing to do with it.
    Nick: Me?! (points at Ron) It's his ball!
    Ron: Shut up, wimp!
    Nick: We have to get dad. He'll know what to do.
    [the phone rings]
    Amy: Nick, if that's Paul Tate, I'm gonna kill you.
  • Brick Joke: Right before the end credits, Nick "gets" what Russell meant when he said he learned CPR in French class.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Ron tries to make a run for it after breaking the Szalinski's window, but Russ Jr. catches him and drags him back over to apologize. On the flip side, Ron's baseball fixes the problem with the shrink ray.
  • Cats Are Mean: Spike, the Thompsons' cat, screws everything up for the kids when he chases Quark the dog away.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Nick's love of Oatmeal Creme Pies.
    • Ron's baseball bat.
    • The remote-controlled lawnmower.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Big Russ Thompson is shown lighting up despite having quit several years before, demonstrating to the kids how worried he is about them.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The freshly-tossed cigarette that the kids find. Being that close to the still-hot cigarette would really burn quarter-inch-tall people.
  • Cute Giant: Adam, after being turned gigantic in Honey, I Blew Up The Kid.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Zigzagged. In the third film Wayne manages his own laboratory with several scientists working for him on various projects. Despite at least ten years passing between the first and third films, not much time is spent examining how the world is changed now that shrinking ray technology exists (aside from a passing line about how the original shrink ray is going to be displayed in the Smithsonian).
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the first movie, Ron is often quite cynical. Amy has her moments, too.
  • Death Ray: Before the baseball fell into it, the shrink ray blew things up instead.
  • Disaster Dominoes: How the plot gets kicked off, every time.
  • Disney Death: Painfully averted with Anty's death.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When helping his father pack the camper van, Russ spots Amy dancing in her kitchen as she tries to clean up. He's mesmerized.
  • Eureka Moment: After using a baseball bat to shoo a bee (which Nick and Russ are riding on)...
    Wayne: Wait a second... Nick doesn't play baseball. [looks up at his attic/lab, which the window broke]
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: The tiny kids spend most of the movie running from one life threatening situation to another.
  • Exact Words: When the cops arrive at the Szalinski house;
    Female Cop: Did uh, you report two missing children?
    Wayne: Oh, there must be some mistake. Our children are in the backyard.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Anty getting practically impaled through the torso by the scorpion.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Narrowly averted in all three Shrunk movies. Played straight, however, in the premier episode of the TV show. In Diane's own father no less.
  • Fence Painting: Nick convinces his friend Tommy to pay him for the privilege of mowing the Szalinskis' lawn because he gets to do it with a cool remote controlled lawnmower.
  • Flat "What": Diane's initial reaction when Wayne confesses that his machine shrank their kids.
    • Followed by another when Wayne told Diane the Thompson kids also shrank and they're all in the backyard. Then grabs Wayne after he told her he threw them out with the trash. Then faints when Wayne tells the police (Diane called the police to report the kids missing before finding out they were shrunk) that the kids aren't missing, they're in the backyard.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Russ and Amy at the end of the movie.
  • Foreshadowing: Nick "letting" Tommy use the lawnmower, which he says he'll do "later".
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Anty (the only character in the whole franchise to be killed).
    • Though in all fairness, the kids had to deal with some other important stuff shortly after her demise, and Ron does mention how she "saved him from a giant scorpion" during the ending.
  • Giant Food: To the shrunken kids, an Oatmeal Cream Pie is "as big as a house", and Cheerios could be used as life preservers.
    • The epilogue shows the Szalinskis and the Thompsons eating a turkey that was clearly blown up to double size with the shrink ray. And then Quark is shown with a massive dog biscuit.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the third movie:
    Gordon: Of course, as soon as the kids realize we're gone, they'll be very upset.
    *Cut to kids celebrating and cheering*
  • Happily Married: Wayne and Diane (although they're having some difficulties at the beginning of the first movie) and Russ Sr. and Mae. Gordon and Patti from the third movie also count.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Anty again.
  • Hollywood Science: Shrinking an object by reducing the open space inside it wouldn't remove any weight, and the Square-Cube Law would mean that the shrunken characters wouldn't be able to move at all. They also probably wouldn't be able to breathe or digest normal-sized food and would stand a good chance of embedding themselves in most materials they stood on.
  • Homemade Inventions
  • Hope Spot: The kids find themselves right under the Szalinskis as they're looking for them, and they call out to them. Unfortunately they can't hear the kids, and they walk back inside.
  • How Did That Get in There?: Russ Sr., almost word-for-word, when Mae finds a packet of cigarettes hidden in his baseball cap.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Averted twice in the series. Nick is nearly eaten by his father when he falls into a bowl of cheerios, and in the third film Wayne and his brother are almost scooped up by the teen girls when they land in a bowl of chip dip.
  • I Lied: Mae told Russ Sr. that Russ Jr. didn't make the team, which Russ Sr. was upset over. Later in the movie, while talking to the cops, Mae slipped that Russ Jr. actually quit but was afraid to tell his dad.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Anty.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: The premise of the plot.
    • And the third movie, and a few episodes of the series.
  • Ironic Echo: "Weird family."
  • It's a Small World After All: (And we're not even going for Incredibly Lame Pun here!) Russ Jr. and Nick get caught on a bumble bee and flown all over the yard, inexplicably being dropped off not far from Amy and Ron.
    • Later, the kids are thrown through the air by a lawnmower, and land right in front of Wayne and Diane.
  • It's All Our Fault: Diane feels this way, and it's more than just the kids getting shrunk.
    Diane: Somehow I feel like this is all our fault.
    Wayne: No, it's my fault. I start working on something I don’t think about anything else. I should have been more careful with the machine. I'm sorry.
    Diane: That's not what I mean. It's not important that I sell another house or you getting a grant this year or the next, we just gotta get our family back together.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Russ Sr.
  • Jerkass: Ron, initially. He isn't such a jerk by the end of the movie, though.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The scientists who jeer Wayne's claims about his shrink machine may not be acting very professional, but considering that Wayne himself admits he has no proof that the machine works, they have no reason to believe his outlandish claims. This is exactly what would happen to any scientist in Real Life who made earth-shaking declarations without a single shred of proof.
  • Kids' Wilderness Epic: The first movie spends a lot of time in the backyard, playing it up for all its hazards.
  • Kiss of Life: Russ performs this on Amy without doing chest compressions, and it somehow still works. They do show her coughing up the mud she inhaled when she comes around, though.
  • Late to the Punchline: Russ told Nick in the middle of the movie that he learned CPR (which he used to save Amy's life) from French Class. At the end of the movie:
    Nick: Hey wait! I get it! FRENCH CLASS!
    • Which could also serve as a meta-example, given that a kid watching this movie might not get that joke until several years later.
  • Leaving Audience: Happens to Wayne Szalinski.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Junior Novelization. Most noticeably, Anty is not involved in the scorpion attack, so she survives; when the kids agree to let her go, she just walks off. Also, certain events are re-arranged, and the Hope Spot scene is changed so that when they find the back steps to the house insurmountable, that's when Nick gets the idea to call for Quark, and his fear of the cat is entirely Played for Laughs there.
  • Line in the Sand: Russ Thompson Sr. willingly volunteers to be the test subject to see if the repaired shrink ray will work.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: A stray baseball landing on the shrinking machine is what actually makes it work. Though Wayne is able to figure out why the baseball made the machine functional, and replicate the results.
  • Mistaken for Quake: The movie has what Ron mistakes for an earthquake actually turn out to be a remote-controlled lawn mower. As the kids are a quarter of an inch tall, this means things have gone From Bad to Worse.
  • Mood Whiplash: A romantic scene between Russ Jr. and Amy in the first movie suddenly turns into a moment of sheer terror when the scorpion turns up...
  • Motivation on a Stick: The shrunken kids do this with Anty and a discarded piece of food.
  • Mouthy Kid: Ron.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Wayne, after realizing his kids have shrunk, when he looks at his broom...
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes:
    Nick: "When we crashed, my entire life flashed before my eyes. It didn't take too long."
  • Never My Fault: After Ron accidentally hits his baseball through the Szalinskis' attic window:
    Russ: Just tell 'em what you did.
    Ron: It never would've happened if their house wasn't so close!
    Russ: He hit a baseball through your attic window.
    Amy: He what?
    Ron: It shouldn't have been closed in the first place, it's a nice day!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A literal example; Wayne smashes the shrinking machine in frustration shortly after the kids were miniaturized, then sweeps them up along with the wrecked electronics and debris littering the floor.
  • No Antagonist
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The bee and the scorpion.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The shrink ray faced the attic door and they left the door to the attic unlocked with minors in the house despite the fact that the ray was capable of blowing things up. Add to this the lawn mower left outside and available for minors to use unsupervised.
  • Not Quite Back to Normal: After Wayne tests the shrink ray on Russell Sr. and subsequently resizes him, Russ Sr. finds that his baseball cap is a little big for him.
  • Object Tracking Shot: A complex system at the beginning of Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves makes it easier for the Szalinskis to get their mail.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Anytime Wayne gets angry. The most noteworthy instance comes when he takes his anger out on the shrink ray in the first film after it had just successfully shrunken the kids.
  • Oh, Crap!: A LOT of these throughout the series.
    • To name one example: "No, worse! LAWNMOWER!"
    • A notable facial equivalent occurs in the first film: after Wayne noticed the shrunken couch and realized that his shrink ray did work and, in fact, shrunk the kids, he begins carefully searching for them on the attic floor... only to bump into his broomnote .
      • It doesn't end there! The next shot has him outside examining the trash bag and noticing the rip... causing him to realize that the kids are in the backyard.
  • Papa Wolf: Russ Sr.
    Russ Sr.: I have got an air hammer in my attic, and if you did do something to my kids, there's gonna be pieces of you ALL OVER THE NEIGHBORHOOD!
  • Pet's Homage Name: Bumbling inventor Wayne has a dog named Quark.
  • Prelap: When Wayne realize Nick doesn't play baseball and looks up at his window, we hear Ron say "I just figured it out...". Then we cut back to him and Amy as he believes he's dreaming.
  • Pride: The only possible reason why Russ Sr. didn't tell his fishing buddy the truth why he couldn't go.
    Russ Sr. Eighty bucks, Mae! Nonrefundable! Those kids are grounded!
  • Product Placement: Early in the first film Nick puts a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies on the table, in direct view of the camera. Later the kids use bits of one of the cookies to tame Anty.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Wayne returns home after a miserable day at work to find the kids gone, the window of his attic/lab broken and some of his furniture missing. Distraught of the whole thing he accidentally hits his head on a part of the machine, and then takes his frustration on his invention and destroys it.
    Wayne: I don't believe this! What a day. (looks at his machine) This is all your fault. Five years and you don't even WORK!
  • Rescue Romance: Russ Jr. and Amy suddenly get very friendly after he saves her life.
  • Running Gag: Diane faints in each movie upon the reveal of the shrink ray's effects. Though in Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, it was Mitch. Mostly because his potassium is running low.
    • A lot of characters in the first film utter a simple, judgmental, "...Mmm-hm", when they think someone's acting really bizarre, including Russ Sr, the cops, and Mr. Forstein.
  • Scare Chord: When the scene jumps to Nick's friend Tommy arriving at the Szalinski resident, and when he pulls the veil off the lawnmower.
    • Also earlier, while trying to find his kids on the floor, he crawls towards his broom...
  • Scary Scorpions: Oh dear God.
  • Scavenged Punk: There are shades of this as the kids begin to piece together some makeshift equipment out of full sized scraps.
  • Shoo the Dog: Attempted with Anty.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the first movie, there's a shout-out to the classic movie To Have and Have Not when Amy says to Russell, "You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow."
    • The original shrink ray's display seems evocative of the digitizing laser's in TRON (and the equipment is even tested on a piece of fruit).
    • A minor character in the first film that tells Szalinski not to be discouraged after his failed presentation is named Dr. Brainard after The Absent-Minded Professor.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The junior novelization is actually drastically different from the film, with one of the major differences being an example of this trope for Anty.
  • Square-Cube Law: Obviously broken for Rule of Funny; otherwise, the kids would be crushed by air pressure by virtue of not having an insectoid exoskeleton.
  • Team Pet: Anty, to an extent.
  • Tempting Fate: When the kids take refuge from the lawnmower in an earthworm tunnel:
    Nick: I think we'll be safe in here.
    (lawnmower rests on top of an exit in the tunnel, resulting in Nick suddenly getting sucked towards it)
    • Earlier, Nick falls into a flower and Amy reminds him of his allergies.
    Nick: (sniffs on a pollen) I'm too little to breathe it in! Ah- ACHOO!
    • In Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves, after Wayne and Gordon fell into the onion dip:
    Wayne: They're teenage girls, how much could they eat?
    [a group of girls swarm in and dip chips]
  • This is No Time to Panic
    Ron: They're never gonna find us! We were right under their noses and they didn't even see us!
    Russ Jr.: Don't panic, Ron. We'll... we'll find a way.
    Ron: (panicking) I'm not panicked! Who's panicked? NOBODY'S PANICKED!
  • Tim Taylor Technology: Inverted; the shrink ray only works by using less power. Or at least emitting less heat.
  • Title Drop:
    Wayne (in the first movie): I shrunk the kids.
  • Totally Radical: Ron sometimes talks like this. Given his age and the time the first film was made, it's not too off-putting.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Wayne practically lives by this trope, which is no surprise given his tendency to lose himself in his work and to neglect to double up on the unpredictable nature of his machine. And in the first film, he unwittingly sweeps the kids into the trash and gets them lost in the backyard.
    • It was Ron's baseball that set off the shrink ray in the first movie, though to be fair it was an honest, everyday accident on his part.
  • Verbal Tic: Mae keeps shushing Russ Sr.
  • Would Rather Suffer: Downplayed. In the first film, before the Szalinskis get seriously worried about not being able to find Nick and Amy, Wayne suggests that they might be next door. An incredulous Diane replies that their kids "would rather be at school".
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Russ Sr. wishes that Russ. Jr. was as excited about the fishing trip (and sports in general) as Ron.
    • In the third film, Wayne wishes that Adam preferred science to sports. Wayne comes around, though.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    (mysterious sound appears)
    Ron: What's that?
    Amy (nervously while looking up): Or more like a swarm of...
    Nick: Bees!
  • Your Size May Vary: Nick mentions they're a quarter of an inch tall, but the bulk of the film treats them like they're less than half that size and barely visible to the naked eye. The film sticks to that scale pretty consistently, though, so maybe Nick's calculations were just off.


Example of: