Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

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Released 21-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 89:41
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joe Johnston
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Rick Moranis
Matt Frewer
Marcia Strassman
Kristine Sutherland
Thomas Wilson Brown
Jared Rushton
Amy O'Neill
Robert Oliveri
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The output of Walt Disney Pictures over the years can pretty much be categorised under one heading - family entertainment. Now given the number of families in the world, I suppose there is some logic in trying to dominate that one market segment. The downside is that an organisation the size of Walt Disney Pictures has to produce a certain number of films in a year in order to maintain the rather large workforce it must have, along with the workforces of assorted associated companies. That pressure I guess inevitably means that plenty of ideas for films are considered every year and it is equally inevitable that at times some rather dubious or underdeveloped stories get the go-ahead for production.

    That is perhaps what happened with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Now don't get me wrong - I enjoy this film and have done for years. But truly, if you look at this with a cold heart, this is hardly a story to sustain a feature length film - before even considering the inevitable plot holes. Still, into production it went and by all accounts must have been rather successful as it spawned three sequels. Even by Disney's renowned ability for milking its properties for all they are worth, three sequels is a pretty impressive number, although admittedly one - the best one - is only a short film.

    Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is an inventor who has been tinkering with a matter shrinking device without success, apparently for some time. This has placed something of a strain on his marriage to Diane (Marcia Strassman), but that strain might be alleviated if his latest efforts with the machine are improved. Unfortunately, that is not the case and things just seem to be coming to an end as an inventor until the kids get involved. Next door brat Ron Thompson (Jared Rushton) manages to put a baseball through the window into Wayne's inventing attic, said baseball being (rather unbelievably) the final missing ingredient in making the machine work. When Ron and Nick Szalinski (Robert Oliveri) go upstairs to retrieve the baseball, voila - zapped and shrunk. Further neighbour Russ Thompson Junior (Thomas Brown) and Amy Szalinski (Amy O'Neill) head upstairs to find out where the two boys have gone and they too are zapped. Now one quarter of an inch tall, they find themselves thrown out into the trash by Wayne after his troubled times at a conference. Now stuck at the bottom of the garden, the four children have to find their way back to the house, in order that they may be restored to their true size.

    Aside from plot holes the size of, well, the Szalinski's back garden, the story does lag somewhat at times and perhaps the film could have done with some tightening up at the screenplay stage. The story is blessed with a few decent dollops of comedy but again perhaps not enough to sustain the film for its entire current length. The acting is about what we would expect from this sort of film, and the same is true of the direction. The improvement comes in reasonable cinematography and special effects - although the passage of time has perhaps not been quite as good to the latter. So basically we are talking about the quintessential mediocre piece of Disney cinema. And yet despite all that, the film at some level does work and works quite well enough to be the sort of film that you can return to time and time again - just not every night.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Whilst the original theatrical ratio for the film was 1.85:1, the opening credits seem to extend beyond the frame. This may of course be overscan on my system and since I have no VHS tape for reference, this is probably the answer. However, that is not to say that the opening credits might not be incorrectly framed.

    This is in most respects only slightly better than average. Sharpness is adequate enough but is hardly to be confused with the best around. There is always a prevalent softness to the definition that whilst not really annoying per se does make for a slightly tired looking image. At one point this is compounded by a distinct loss of focus in the image. There is a soft graininess to the entire transfer, further eroding the sharpness of the image. Shadow detail is pretty good however, especially as there is plenty of opportunity here to go awry. Clarity is more than acceptable although this might not be to the advantage of the special effects at times.

    Where I did find the transfer disappointing is in the colours. There is a somewhat flat look to the colours that just adds to the nondescript nature of the whole transfer. Sure there are times when the colours come up nicely saturated and almost vibrant but most of the time this is not the case. The most obvious place is in the wandering through the back garden, where the green leaves of the grass have a tendency to look flat in colour rather than having a vibrant look that would accord more with the general look of a recently watered garden (as implied by the water flow and the sprinklers running). Of course, this does mean that there is no problem with oversaturation of colours, and colour bleed is also absent.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Thankfully there is nothing too much in the way of film-to-video artefacts either with the only issue being some instances of aliasing: the fridge door at 3:45, the lawnmower at 12:57, the car door at 30:36 and the steps at 39:57 being the sort of modest issue to be found. Unfortunately, right from the opening Walt Disney Pictures logo there is ample evidence of film artefacts, some of which are rather obvious. Dirt specks and scratches are to be seen, along with other evidence of film damage and film dirt.

    This is a single sided, single layered DVD so there is no layer change.

    There is a modest collection of subtitles on the DVD, including both English and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are perfectly decent efforts that don't miss a lot in the way of the dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Lacking any other option, apart from watching the film without any audio at all, that was the one I listened to. On the balance, with the standard of some of the dialogue, watching without audio might not actually be a bad idea...

    The dialogue comes up reasonably well in the soundtrack but there are a few places where the dialogue is a little soft and you might have some problems understanding what was being said. Note that this does not include those places where the dialogue is deliberately at a very low level. There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync.

    The original music score comes from James Horner. Yes, before handling lush romantic pap as exemplified by that sinking romance ship thing, he eked out an existence producing very unlush, very unromantic pap as exemplified by this. Thoroughly unmemorable, thoroughly formulaic stuff.

    The overall soundtrack really is an unmemorable piece of work, too. Hardly a marvellous demonstration of six channel surround sound, there is a general feeling of slight congestion to the sound and the surround encoding is nothing to really write home about. However, there are highlights indeed and notable amongst them is the sequence with the bees that certainly swoops between the front and rear channels quite nicely. Given the age of the film and the rather limited opportunities to really show some strong surround encoding, the overall result is probably better than I expected. There really is nothing much for the low frequency effects channel to do so your subwoofer will not come into play often.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   They was shrunk I tell you...

Menu

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Whilst there is a distinct lack of any reliable reviews of the DVD, it does appear that the Region 1 release of the film is as bereft of extras as the Region 4. Oh, and it is also apparently missing a widescreen presentation. On the other hand the Region 1 release is available as a separate DVD to purchase, rather than being part of a box set. Still, the Region 4 release would have to be the better choice I would think. The Region 2 release appears to be the same as the Region 4.

Summary

    Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is hardly a great film no matter which way you look at it. It is a good example of the sort of relatively mediocre family entertainment that Disney churns out, or at least used to churn out, with almost gay abandon. Not that that was necessarily a bad thing but they are sort of the cinematic equivalent of a good Chinese meal: you stuff yourself silly with the fare but before too long you feel like you missed having a meal at all. Whilst the basic premise of the film is the biggest plot hole you can find, the story ends up being reasonably entertaining even after all these years. The transfer is in all respects a typically average effort that has sort of become the standard on these back catalogue releases from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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