New 'Honey' predictable but still amusing

July 17, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

They may have blown up the kid, but they shrunk the script.

There's hardly anything to "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid"; it's about 80 minutes of big baby jokes, pratfalls and process photography. And yet for all its primitiveness, the movie is quite amusing. Or, possibly, because of all its primitiveness, it's amusing.

If you've seen the ads, you've seen the movie. There's no reason for it to be 80 minutes long since there's no formal arc to the story. It could have been 80 seconds long or 80 hours long, depending on how many times the big baby steps on trucks.

The recognizeable regulars return -- Rick Moranis as Dad, Marla Strassman and Mom and Robert Oliveri as Nick -- but the new addition is actually a twosome, 2 1/2 -year-old identical twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, who together should certainly win at least an Oscar nomination in the Best Performance by a Baby category.

The twins are beautiful, large or small, two or one, and, perhaps more important, almost exquisitely responsive to the adults pestering them. They can actually act, but the best scene in the movie takes place quite early, when Daddy is putting Baby Adam to bed and the child (whichever one of the boys who was on set that day) coos and goo-goos and prattles so sweetly and relates to Dad so vividly it really warms the heart.

The gimmick is sprung shortly thereafter. Daddy Wayne is now working for a slick new lab, trying to improve on the technology he invented in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" by taking it in the opposite direction. One Saturday, with his two sons accompanying him, this absent-minded professor absent mindedly manages to zap Baby Adam with 50,000 zlotys of growth ray, and soon enough he starts bulking up . . . and up . . . and up . . .

It's like a '50s monster movie overdosed on Pablum. In fact, baby-boomer parents may find themselves flashing back to a camp atrocity of 1957, "The Amazing Colossal Man," also, a friend tells me, set in Las Vegas. In that one, a bad guy got a giant hypodermic through his thorax, thus inflicting fear of needles on an entire generation. There's nothing nearly as menacing in "Honey;" in fact, the movie labors relentlessly to keep everything as cheerful as a Happy Meal.

Vegas, not exactly a family kind of town, evidently chipped in and made its main drag on a Saturday night available to the filmmakers, and the process photography that places the 100-foot tall Adam on the strip, poking in and out of the neon towers of the casinos while gurgling and making bubbles, is extremely proficient. As an illusion, it works brilliantly; moreover, it's an inherently amusing concept: the most corrupt street in America occupied by 3 million tons of grinning, drooling toddler.

No sensate being will have an iota's worth of trouble predicting the well-worn plot turns of the piece, particularly a subplot involving Peter Shea as a nasty lab executive and Lloyd Bridges as the benevolent head of the company, but it's so sappily innocent, only a misanthrope could raise a stink.

'Honey, I Blew Up the Kid'

Starring Rick Moranis.

Directed by Randal Kleiser.

Released by Walt Disney.

Rated PG.

** 1/2

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