Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's a Small World Afterall

Yesterday was a great day.  I know I gave mention to that yesterday at this time, but I really mean it.  The school day passed very quickly and I had plenty of time at home to relax...however I didn't relax, I made a mess in my kitchen instead.  Tonight is the annual CCT (Chillicothe Civic Theater) awards dinner and they asked all who were attending to bring a covered dish to share.  I decided to make the Bacon Cheddar Mashed Potatoes that I made with my sister this past Thanksgiving (and got rave reviews for), but I had never made mashed potatoes from scratch before.  Usually I just make the powdered kind which taste just fine to me, but I figured since I'm making this for a large group I should go all out.  So after peeling, slicing (with a food processor), and boiling the potatoes I had already spent 45 minutes on this one dish.  Good grief!  I also had to cook bacon and grate cheddar cheese too, which added to the time (though I was able to do most of that during the boil time for the potatoes.  From that point it was fairly easy, I just dumped the potatoes into my mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix in all the other ingrediants.  At the end of the experience (including clean up) I had spent an hour and a half making food that I myself was not planning to even eat that night.  It was a little rough on me mentally and pretty much made me pooped for the remainder of the night.  I don't mind, however...I know the dish will be a hit.  It was interesting how my time shrank down to practically nothing as I sat there in the kitchen and worked, which put me in the mood for today's film.  I remember having a facination with miniature things when I was a child.  Models, 3D puzzles, Micro Machines, and even mini-games simply amazed me.  I don't know if it was just that the things were reduced in size or that I was simply easy to entertain...but regardless I found the small universe facinating.  My mom seemed to understand this too, because she often delighted in giving me mini-foods (usually when I wouldn't eat the regular sized version) and mini-things.  I suppose then it was inevitable in the summer of 1989 that I would end up at one film that dealt with things that were miniature as well as things that were huge.  It was a live-action picture from Disney (who hadn't made many successful live-action films in a while) and was tailored almost perfectly for a kid like me.  So let's shrink ourselves down to size and enjoy revisiting Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Wayne Szalinski, a scientist, is struggling both in his professional life and in his marriage.  His wife Diane is largely supporting their family through her real estate work while Wayne spends much of his time inventing, and then she comes home from that to clean house and cook for her demanding family.  During a particularly rough patch in their relationship Wayne also hits a rough patch in his work.  The shrink ray he is attempting to create refuses to work and only wants to blow things up and this forces him to complete his presentation on his work without proof...essentially getting himself laughed off the stage.  Little does Wayne know that he is about to have some very tangible proof very soon.  His children, Amy and Nick, are home alone trying to clean the house when Ron Thompson, a neighbor kid, hits his baseball into the Szalinski's attic and accidentally activates the machine.  Russ Thompson Jr., Ron's older brother, makes Ron go to apologize and when they go up to retrieve the baseball, they are all shrunk by the machine to a height of 1/4 of an inch.  To add to their plight, Wayne comes home and destroys his machine in a rage and throws the kids out in the garbage...now they must deal with gigantic bugs, huge lawnmowers, and a backyard that is more like a vast jungle than the boring suburban space they know.  The kids must get back to the house and get big, or else they could be in big trouble.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is one of those perfect family movies from the 1980s.  It has action, special effects, an excellent story, and a great deal of heart thanks to the performances of it's leads.  The sets are particularly astounding as they perfectly replicate attic floors, blades of grass, counter tops, and other everyday objects as enormous environments for the four kids to run around in.  The design of the shrink ray is also impressive given that it looks highly technical and yet completely homemade.  Joe Johnston, a long time cinematographer for Steven Spielberg, expertly directs this, his first feature, as a rollicking old-fashioned adventure that has the feel of a real-life safari mixed with the feel of playing make believe in the backyard.  Watching this film again I had a tremendous feeling of nostalgia, and yet really appreciated how well the film has aged.  Sure, the song Amy dances to in the kitchen reeks of the late 80s and the clothes and hair styles are not of this time...yet the film still works as an exciting romp for young and old, and is a great film to revisit nowadays.

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