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Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997)::rating::1.5::rating::1.5

By 1997, Rick Moranis was at a crossroads in his life. His wife, Ann Belsky, had passed away in 1991, thus making Moranis a young widower with two kids at home. After several years spent on movie sets, Moranis began to feel compelled to step away from his career for the sake of his children. It was both the bold and noble thing to do, and it spoke to someone with well-placed priorities.

With all that said, I suspect Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves made the decision a little easier for him. This third Shrunk turd represents a nadir in Walt Disney’s live-action catalog, which includes multiple Apple Dumpling Gang movies and an excruciating remake of That Darn Cat. Shrunk Ourselves was originally slated for release in Christmas 1996, until Disney executives decided that it, you know, sucked donkeys. The film was cast into Direct-to-VHS oblivion, and it would eventually settle to the bottom of drugstore bargain bins, right next to a few Hulk Hogan movies and some suspiciously cheap condoms.

Unfortunately, Disney’s stern judgment also stripped the production of its special effects budget. That means you’re gonna get green-screen effects that make your local weatherman’s schtick look like Avatar by comparison. And it’s really too bad, because the first Shrunk film was distinguished by some truly impressive technical work. I fell asleep about forty minutes into Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, so I can’t really comment on it, except that it’s probably the best movie about a giant, rampaging baby I’ve ever seen. It’s also the worst.

Anyway, if you’ve made it this far, I’m gonna assume you’ve seen the previous installments. And, if you’re still onboard for this one, you might be a little hard-up for entertainment. Head back to the $1 bin and check out those Hogan flicks: Santa with Muscles and Suburban Commando hold up surprisingly well. Steer clear of those knock-off condoms, or you might be nine months away from your very own giant, rampaging baby.

Annn-eeee-wayyy: Ahem, this is probably as far as I’ve gone without describing the plot of a movie, and I’m pretty proud of that fact. As with the previous movies, Shrunk 3 centers on Wayne Szalinski (Moranis), an inventor so profoundly dorky he makes Orville Redenbacher look like Dean Martin. Szalinski specializes in the kind of inventions that serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. (I half-suspected him to patent a mechanical hand that reaches out and tightens the knot on your necktie.)

Well gang, it turns out that things aren’t going real swell in the Szalinski house. Diane (Eve Gordon, replacing Marcia Strassman from previous films) has had it up to here with Wayne and his wacky Rube Goldberg inventions. She’s planning a girls’ trip with her sister-in-law (Robin Bartlett), while Wayne heads off his brother Gordon (Stuart Pankin). The Szalinskis seem so sick of each other, I honestly wondered if Diane might try and seize Wayne’s……..shrunken assets? Put an ear up to your speaker and you’ll hear me giggling like Dr. Evil.

Moving on: The Szalinski husbands and wives are about to go their separate ways, when Diane decrees that Wayne’s tiki man statue has to be ejected from the house. She says the thing is uglier than sin, and she’s absolutely right. Of course, goob-tastic Wayne can’t just haul the damn thing to the curb and slap a “free” sign on it. No, he’s gotta whip out his Jetsons-style shrinking machine and try to hide this eyesore. And–damned if the title doesn’t spoil it for everyone–Wayne and Gordon end up shrinking themselves! Wooo-hooooo!!! Let’s all settle in for a real hootenanny! Somebody pass me an activated mimosa and a couple of Advil.

Meanwhile, now that the parents are gone, those rascally Szalinski kids are living high on the hog. Tweenage Jenny (Allison Mack) invites some jerkwad boys to play kissy-kissy games and dance to elevator rock. You know, stuff that would bore Eddie Haskell and the Beaver. The other Szalinski cousins, Mitch (Jake Richardson) and Adam (Bug Hall), spend their time making chili volcanoes and little weenie people to sacrifice into them. Side note: I’ve been making chili volcanoes since I was thirty, and I can tell you right now these damn kids are doing it wrong.

In conclusion, the Emperor Honorius once observed that…..um, well, I’ve lost my train of thought. I’ll tie it up this way: Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves is a terrible, Z-grade comedy. Avoid it at all costs–even $1. My heart was gladdened to hear that Rick Moranis is returning to the screen to film a fourth Shrunk sequel, with a solid crew backing him up. This would’ve been an unconscionable way to send out someone who is both a gifted performer and a rock-solid human being.

75 min. PG. Disney+.

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