Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Friday, June 14, 2019

RECENT WATCHES: Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992)

After “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” became the surprise hit of 1989, Disney obviously realized they had a potential franchise on their hands. A sequel came about after Disney acquired an unrelated screenplay named “Big Baby,” which involved a toddler growing to enormous size after being zapped with a laser beam. It seemed like a logical enough idea for a follow-up. If kids and families turned out for a movie about youngsters shrinking to tiny sizes, it seems reasonable that the same audience would be interested in a movie about a baby growing to enormous size. “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” would reach theater screens in 1992. “Grease” director Randal Kleiser, who previously made “Flight of the Navigator” and “White Fang” for Disney, would replace Joe Johnston in the director's chair.

Following the accident that shrank his kids, the Szalinski family has moved to a pleasant suburb outside Las Vegas. Wayne has taken his shrink ray to a new company, who are currently attempting to convert it into a enlarging ray. Nick is now a teenager, desperate to appear cool for a girl he likes. Amy is headed off for college. And the family has a new addition now, two year old Adam, who proves to be a surprising handful for Wayne and the others. After a stroke of inspiration about the size-changing ray strikes, Wayne sneaks into the lab, taking his sons with him. Unknowingly, Adam and his favorite plush bunny are zapped. Slowly, the boy begins to grow larger and larger. Soon enough, Adam is approaching giant proportions but retains his little boy enthusiasm and propensity for mischief.

If “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” was a family film that occasionally leaned more on wackier humor, “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” aims more for the five-and-under crowd.  The film focuses on a giant-sized toddler and the goofy antics he gets into. So there's lots of sight gags involving the big kid being disguised in big-and-tall clothes, being mistaken for an adult but continuing to act like a child, or suddenly exiting the house right through the wall. Weirdly, there's rarely a crass or obnoxious side to these jokes. “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” is refreshingly light on poop jokes or grating slapstick. It's sense of humor is juvenile but amiable.

“Honey, I Blew Up the Kid”  is a major downgrade from the original in one department. Shrinking humans down to a tiny size and having them interact with their suddenly enormous backyard is a much more novel concept than making one two year old forty feet tall. Granted, the movie does have some impish fun with its concept. The kid's stuffed bunny and everything in his pocket grows with him. So a toy Indian becomes involved in the proceedings, while Nick, his crush, and the sports car they end up in take the place of Adam's favorite toy car. The Las Vegas finale features some decent sight gags. Such as Adam picking up the giant guitar outside the Hard Rock Cafe, interacting with the neon cowboy signs, or chasing after an ice cream truck. If you're expecting some kid-friendly kaiju action, you'll be disappointed. Adam manages to wreck very little actual destruction, which is probably for the best. There is an inevitable shout-out to Toho's King of the Monsters though.

Surprisingly, most of the original film's cast returns for this sequel. Even Robert Oliveri and Amy O'Neill return, both allowed to grow up some between movies. O'Neill's part is reduced to a cameo but Oliveri is basically the film's secondary star. He shows some decent comedic chops, playing the character's frustration without becoming an obnoxious teenager. Mostly, this is Rick Moranis' show. If he was ever underwhelmed by the material or felt silly playing second-fiddle to an enormous two year old, he never shows it. In fact, Rick even appears to be having a good time. The scenes where he sings songs to the little kid or plays with the bunny are actually adorable. A subplot involving John Shea, as the corrupt executive eager to take Wayne's invention away from him, is totally disposable though.

“Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” did not match the original's blockbuster success, breaking even at the box office without going into the profit margin. However, I'm betting it was popular on video. As a kid, this was my favorite of the series and I watched it more than once. It's a decently entertaining flick, though best for the little kid crowd. And one more thing before we go: Am I having a personal Mandela Effect thing or does anyone else remember this movie being called “Honey, I Blew Up the Baby?” They even say it that way in the movie! I guess Disney wasn't comfortable releasing a movie with a title that implies infant-related explosions. [6/10]

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