Honey, I Blew Up the Kid” is a diverting, well-crafted sequel to Disney’s 1989 hit “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Taking its cue from 1950s sci-fi pix and inverting the shrinking gags from the original “Honey,” the sequel has wacky inventor Rick Moranis accidentally blowing up his 2-year-old to huge proportions. This lighthearted summer entertainment will give kids a vicarious kick while the elaborate visual effects help keep parents intrigued. Disney should make merry again at the B.O.
Rampaging baby Adam, engagingly played by identical curly-haired twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, is a monstrous exaggeration of the “terrible twos.” Every parent will recognize the tyke’s tirades with a wry smile, and kids will see him as an embodiment of their wildest fantasies.
There’s nothing genuinely menacing about the baby, though, and even his cartoonish would-be captor John Shea, who wants to make him a guinea pig for government experiments, doesn’t unduly darken the mood of this tongue-in-cheek yarn, smartly scripted by Thom Eberhardt, Peter Elbling and Garry Goodrow from a story by Goodrow.
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Nor does “Kid” have the creepy feeling of the original “Honey,” in which Moranis’ electromagnetic ray machine accidentally shrank his kids to insect-sized mites struggling to escape from the backyard grass. That’s an observation that cuts both ways, because while the sequel is more jovial, it lacks the original’s tension and sense of adventure.
But “Kid” is a romp, escapism at its breeziest, smoothly engineered by director Randal Kleiser and a top-flight tech staff. Editors Michael A. Stevenson, Harry Hitner and Tina Hirsch keep the pace zipping right along most of the time, seldom allowing the effects shots to linger too long or the gags to get tiresome.
The filmmakers were faced with overcoming the built-in handicap of a one-joke plot and, despite some repetitiveness, they’ve largely succeeded by steadily varying the size of the baby and the scale of the sight gags.
Initially growing into a seven-foot housewrecker, Adam soon passes the 50 -foot mark and eventually balloons into a blithe 112-foot behemoth stomping down the Las Vegas Strip like Glenn Langan in AIP’s 1957 “The Amazing Colossal Man.”
The sequel picks up Moranis and family living in slightly more upscale digs in a Vegas suburb jokingly named Vista del Mar.
A lousy businessman, Moranis has made the mistake of selling his invention to a sinister company headed by Lloyd Bridges, whose huge warehouse includes such items as the Rosebud sled and a crate stamped “Ark of the Covenant — Top Secret — Army Intelligence — Do Not Open.”
Moranis and Shea are supposed to be co-directors of the project to develop a new version of his ray machine to enlarge objects for government use, but Moranis has been frozen out and spends his time around the house tinkering with new ideas while wearing a helmet festooned with electronic gizmos.
The “Honey” franchise is Disney’s contemporary equivalent of its successful 1960s special effects comedies featuring Fred MacMurray’s absent-minded professor.
Moranis has an endearingly childlike quality as the goofball scientist whose family can’t help finding him lovable even when his work keeps backfiring on them.
Besides Adam, his brood includes his look-alike son Nick (Robert Oliveri), now a teenager who worries that he’s inherited his dad’s nerdiness, and Amy (Amy O’Neill), who gets shipped off to college early in the pic. Joining Moranis’ quest to rescue Adam and shrink him back to baby size is the kid’s babysitter (Keri Russell), who declares, “There’s no way I’m changing those diapers!”
Moranis’ extremely tolerant wife (Marcia Strassman) faints again on cue when she hears what’s happened to her offspring but otherwise avoids sexist cliches with her winning determination and a bright idea that enables her to save the baby from Shea’s clutches.
Bridges has fun with his sympathetic tycoon role by playing it totally straight, aside from a droll gag in the finale that alludes to his role in “Airplane!” In another of the film’s homages, ’50s sci-fi stalwart Ken Tobey pops up as the guard to Shea’s laboratory.
The giant baby effects are a fascinating and mostly seamless blend of composites, miniatures, puppetry and other gimmicks, expertly overseen by visual effects producer and unit director Thomas G. Smith, working with Buena Vista Visual Effects supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw.
The work of production designer Leslie Dilley and lenser John Hora gives “Kid” a more subdued and attractive color scheme than that of the previous “Honey” pic. Bruce Broughton’s music is appropriately bouncy.
Playing with “Kid” is an entertaining five-minute Disney animated short, “Off His Rockers,” which uses computer technology to bring to life a magical rocking horse that lures a boy away from his obsession with video games. Barry Cook directed the short, which was produced by Tad Gielow and scored by Broughton.