Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID (1992) * 1/2.

Directed by Randal Kleiser. Written by Thom Eberhardt, Peter Elbling, Garry Goodrow. Cinematography, John Hora. Production design, Leslie Dilley. Cast: Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Robert Oliveri, Amy O'Neill, Lloyd Bridges et al. A Walt Disney release. 89 minutes. Rated PG.
A honey of a movie? Not. Its predecessor, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," was far richer in possibilities, suspense, plot, characters and humor.

Had the filmmakers kept faith with the original's grammar, the sequel would have been titled "Honey, I Blown Up the Kid." But nobody cares about tradition these days.

It's all about Adam, played by the Shalikar twins who are variously reported as 2 or 2 1/2 years old. It depends, I suppose, from whether you count the age at the start or the end of the filming.

Accidentally zapped by a special ray, Adam becomes larger each time he is exposed to an electromagnetic force field. In stages, he reaches 112 feet--at least that's what the press release says--a world record for a human. The previous champion I could locate was "The Amazing Colossal Man," only 60 feet tall.

The ray's inventor is Wayne Szalinski, Adam's dad. He is once again played by Rick Moranis as a hyper type and a super high-tech Rube Goldberg. He looks dim and is inept with simple daily chores. Welcome back to the old cliche about the absent-minded professor, the spacey scientist or the intellectual discombobulated by "real" life. (A lot of strange people are named Wayne these days, in movies).

"Honey 2" is a single-joker, whereas "Honey 1" had variety. The Spanish saying "if you lie down with babies, you wake up wet" applies here. If your entire movie is about a colossal kid, there's little you can do except follow him with the camera, hope for the best and try to be flexible, fitting whatever baby does to your framework.

As Adam's size increases so does the movie's yawn quotient. Two feeble mini-subplots--Wayne's nasty superior, Adam's older brother and a babysitter--are of small help. The film does very little with people, context or dialogue. It's all about special effects and Adam's "ooh, aah" cuteness. Big deal. Adam doesn't say much either. A little Eve would have been more interesting, since girls seem to develop speech faster.

I retained just one nice, throwaway conceit and two good lines. The Szalinskis' suburb in desert-surrounded Las Vegas is called "Vista del Mar" ("Sea View"). The sentences, funny in context, are: "There's no way I'm changing those diapers" and "Look at that mother!"

The special effects bring modern techniques to the venerable screen genres about gigantic people, animals or prehistoric creatures, whose size was caused by arrested evolution, encounters with aliens, nuclear radiation and such. Some of those pictures became classics, like "The Lost World" (1924) or, better yet, "King Kong" with all its mythological, Freudian or sociological implications. Sometimes, as in "The Attack of the 50 Ft.Woman," the movies dreadful enough to become howls.

"Honey 2" is neither campy, droll, or suspenseful. You know that no harm will come to the child, that Adam will do only material damage, and that he will get back to regulation size at the end. I heard just one big laugh from the audience, and this from an adult. The many children in the theater were quiet throughout. Confused by the sights? By the technobabble? Overawed? Plain bored?

Nowadays even the best special effects seldom impress the public. We take movie magic for granted. It is no longer like earlier periods when giant squids, invisible men or Lilliputians took the spectators' breath away and had them asking each other: "How did they do it?"

In the small part of a laboratory watchman is redhead Ken Tobey, that likable second-shelf actor, who, as Kenneth Tobey, had his hour of glory when he played the lead in the classic sci-fi horror "The Thing" of 1951. Nice to see him again. It's a small bonus for aficionados clutching at straws.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel