Film Review: Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997)

Release Date: March 18th, 1997
Directed by: Dean Cundey
Written by: Karey Kirkpatrick, Nell Scovell, Joel Hodgson
Based on: characters by Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna, Ed Naha
Music by: Michael Tavera
Cast: Rick Moranis, Eve Gordon, Bug Hall, Robin Bartlett, Stuart Pankin, Allison Mack, Jake Richardson, Mila Kunis

Walt Disney Pictures, 74 Minutes

Review:

“Baseball’s just a phase, it’ll pass. But science is always cool.” – Wayne Szalinski

As bad as Honey, I Blew Up the Kid was, I assumed that this would be absolutely terrible. However, I was kind of surprised by it.

No, it’s not as good as the original film but it was still amusing and kind of charming.

I found it kind of weird that Marcia Strassman wasn’t in this but after the second film, I can’t blame her. But Eve Gordon, who takes over the role of Wayne’s wife, did a better than decent job and had okay chemistry with Moranis.

I also found the other two adults in the story, Stuart Pankin and Robin Bartlett, to be pretty good. I’ve always liked Pankin and I’ll always have a soft spot for Bartlett, who I most remember for that Richard Grieco starring spy spoof If Looks Could Kill. Man, that film’s been lost to the sands of time. I’d like to review it but I’ve never seen it streaming anywhere.

Getting back to this movie, I’m glad that they shrunk characters down again and got back to what made the first film cool and unique. I also like that they shrunk the adults this time, as it at least doesn’t give us a lazy rehash of the original.

My only real complaint about the film is that the adults never go outside. One of the things that made the first film so cool was seeing a normal backyard from the perspective of an insect. In this film, everything happens within the house but considering that this was a movie made specifically to be released on home video, they didn’t have the budget to replicate the oversized outside world.

That doesn’t mean that the shrunken characters don’t have threats to deal with, they certainly do. The worst of them being a cockroach that is about the size of a large horse when compared to the scaled down protagonists.

For the majority of the film, the parents are trying to get their kids’ attention. However, the kids are busy having a house party and are just happy that their parents are nowhere to be found.

For what this is, the special effects and overall production were pretty well done. Sure, some things look dated and it’s obvious that this wasn’t intended for the big screen but you still get lost in the oversized world and buy into the premise.

In the end, this isn’t half bad and it’s better than other straight-to-video releases of the time.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the other two films in this series.

Film Review: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Release Date: February 14th, 2013 (El Capitan Theare premiere)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: Oz books by L. Frank Baum
Music by: Danny Elfman
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox

Walt Disney, Roth Films, Curtis-Donen Productions, 130 Minutes

Review:

Being a fan of Walt Disney in general and a fan of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, I figured I would check this film out. I wasn’t keen on Disney’s live-action Alice In Wonderland, a few years prior, but considering that this had a pretty decent cast and a different director, I gave it a shot. Besides, Walt Disney made magic with 1985’s Return to Oz, which is still one of the best, if not the best, interpretations of Baum’s work. Also, that film still has a level of creepiness to it that makes it just as unsettling as an adult, as it was when I first saw it as a child.

As far as this film goes, I’m really on the fence. There were scenes and sequences in the movie that were incredibly well done and parts where the writing was superb. Then it would quickly go the other way and give you situations that were beyond ridiculous, even for a CGI fairytale, as well as a huge level of confusion over the characters motivations and evolution throughout the film.

Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz were pretty good in their roles. James Franco was decent but really grew into the role and took charge in the final act of the film. Zach Braff was great as Oz’s assistant in the prologue to the film and as the voice of Finley the flying monkey, a character that one could almost consider beloved had he had more screen time and had he been developed a bit more.

The biggest negative of this film was Mila Kunis. I found this surprising, as I usually like her in most things. However, her transformation to the Wicked Witch of the West was poorly done and her acting in the role went from completely uninteresting and vanilla to so over the top that she became cringe worthy every time she came on the screen.

A special shout out goes to Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox and Bruce Campbell. All three did great in their minimal roles. In Campbell’s case, it was really just a cameo.

The special effects weren’t great and the green screen work in many scenes was pretty deplorable. The evil flying monkeys looked odd and the world of Oz was too fantastical. Yes, it’s a fairytale but the world felt like a crude coloring book done by an angry three year-old who only had four crayons. It was like looking at some bad child art hanging up in a Pizza Hut.

The final battle, if you could call it that, was the highlight of the film and it really showcased the creative ability of director Sam Raimi. He and the writers found a great way to solve the problem of a mere mortal taking on two powerful wicked witches. The final act of the film was the best and it left me feeling some level of appreciation for what I spent two hours of my time watching.

All that being said, I would rather play the Temple Run game based off of this film than ever watch this movie again. In fact, that game is really what motivated me to finally watch this film a few years after its release.

Rating: 5/10