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Love Lessons Learned From 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids!'
Matt - 2/22/01

As I'm sure you've noticed, we've got a new design going, courtesy of Blacksunshine. Personally, I couldn't be happier with it, he did a tremendous job. And finally, bearing server issues, the site doesn't take seventeen hours to load. Also, I'd like to welcome Scott onboard -- he ran Dupayosh, and since he's got a full-time job, and I'm currently running around looking for one myself, we decided to team up against Rob and Rocket in the X-E Volleyball Tournament. Speaking of Rocket, he was so tremendously irked by NASA's constant lies and backpedaling that he decided to break his trademark silence and write an article about it. Meanwhile, Rob's X-E Survivor continues to put any rumors to rest that there's a single person on the planet who doesn't want to see the Pepsi girl shot dead.

Meanwhile, if you click on the X-E Radio or Music icons on the front page, WinAmp should load up and you'll hear our selection of tunes. Unfortunately, its going to sound even worse than usual if you're on anything lower than a DSL connection, so don't bother with it if you are. The current station is more or less a sample...eventually, I'd like to have different stations for different genres, and if we're feeling particularly energetic, different connection rates available. Finally, the archives have been made a little more manageable at 15 per on the Pokemon at the bottom of the main page to get to the different spots. Little hint, the last page will always have the most recent articles.

Onto the meat... HBO's been showing Honey, I Shrunk the Kids lately. As anyone who has HBO knows, once they start showing a flick, they basically show it for thirty days straight until the entire script is hammered in your head like a really awful commercial jig. So now I know every friggin line from H,ISTK. Let's put it to good use.

I saw this in theaters at age 10 when it came out in '89, and loved it. Of course I was ten, but I'm pretty sure that's who it was meant for. Unfortunately, this didn't stop the critics from almost unanimously ripping it apart - I checked around the net for some mainstream reviews of the flick today, and was surprised to see that the bigwigs put me to shame with nitpicking over the absurd. I've read complaints ranging from 'the sets looked like they were made of plastic' to 'not enough character development for Rick Moranis'. Honestly now, I don't think too many kids were worried about what Rick's hobbies were, and I'm pretty certain no one expected them to use real 50' tall blades of grass on the sets.

Is it just me, or is there something a little off about Roger Ebert and a buncha 50-yr-olds talking about Honey, I Shrunk The Kids as if it were Shakespeare? Then again, I decimate He-Man every chance I get, and that's meant for people even younger. I guess the point is that I actually liked the flick, and feel it holds up pretty well today. Most of the children in my family have it as part of their enormous video collections, so it can't be all bad. And it has bugs! Big, giant, friendly bugs!

The movie is a little basic to review the way I usually do, so we'll try something different that I'm sure I'll regret. When I saw it at age 10, I was pretty taken aback the onscreen romance between the two older kid characters, Russ and Amy. At that point, most of the movies I went to see in the theaters were either cartoons or just blatantly stupid -- this whole kissing thing was new territory. Over a decade later, having seen the movie again, I've come to realize that these two kids were pillars of romance that we all need to learn from immediately.

So with that, let's get some lessons in love, courtesy of the teens from Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Believe me, I didn't see that one coming either, but we're already here...let's just run with it.

Now, romance can be really tricky if you haven't learned some of the more intricate lessons. Not everyone is lucky enough to have goofy older brothers or charm-challenged friends to learn the cardinal mistakes from, that's why people need guidebooks, psychic lines, or in the best case, Rick Moranis movies.

In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, there were lessons to be learned that went well beyond knowing to stay away from dad's giant laser and that given the proper size relativity, grass can make great slides. There was a whole other side to this flick -- the blossoming romance between teenagers Amy and Russ, star-crossed lovers from battling families who need to band together to save their little siblings from the alarming amount of scorpions found in suburban backyards. Let's see how the drama unfolds and find out what tips we can find out from these two in the always-problematic field of young love.

Lesson One: Establishment of Interest

If we want to do this right, we've gotta start at the beginning. Young Russell didn't just wake up one morning and decide that he was in love with Amy, something had to trigger it. Now, its never easy to pinpoint the precise moment when someone falls in love...except in Disney movies where they go out of their way to show you it. For Russ, it wasn't any sweet perfume or short skirt that turned him into a lovesick puppy -- it was Amy's shameless self-expression as she danced like an idiot with a mop, totally uncaring if anyone could see her. Russ admired Amy's blatant lack of pride, especially since he just quit the football team because he was too skinny and all the guy hated him because he wears eyeliner. Russ knows what its like to be without pride...but he feels sad about it. Amy revels in it, so Russ immediately finds his pelvis attracted to her.

Now remember, Russ and Amy's respective parents aren't too fond of each other. Russ' family likes fishing and baseball, Amy's family likes dogs and lasers. Its a total black and white issue, the families just don't like or understand each other. So right off the bat, poor Russ is at an impasse. He can't just walk over and strike up a conversation with Amy, it'd be an awkward invasion on enemy territory. He needs to find a reason to be in her majestic presence. Which brings us to lesson two...

Lesson Two: First Impressions

First impressions are a bitch, especially when you have to make them under the guise of your little brother hitting a baseball through your crush's window. But as we've said, Russ can't be picky with the time and locale -- he's already regarded as an asshole by Amy's household, this might be his only shot to get close to her. Unfortunately, Russ blows it by admitting to his voyeurism problem and neglecting to comb his hair. Amy is not impressed. If he's this sloppy on the first meeting, what's it gonna be like by the time their wedding day comes around? Besides, Amy has a date at the mall later, something she'll remind us of at a rate of three times per every five minutes. This just isn't a good time for her to try kindling some sorta romance with the awkward boy next door. That is, unless Russ can successfully pull off the often-difficult third lesson.

This next trick is tough because, well, not everyone has access to big guns that shrink things down to the size of grains of salt. If you lack the equipment, improvise by buying really big furniture and double-stuff Oreos.

Lesson Three: Shrink your crush's size down to the point where she can't possibly escape your advances.

The kids 'inadvertently' shrink down to micro-size, and everyone's pretty concerned. Thing is, this has all been a clever ruse by Russ to buy himself a few hours to woo Amy. This is fact, not theory, evidenced by Russ' complete and total lack of emotion over the preposterous situation at hand. He's maintained the same pouty face from the part where Dad's yelling about him not lifting weights till this precise moment -- when the situation is far more strange, dire, and full of oversized cookies.

If you're curious as to why Russ needed to exploit the neighbor's mysterious laser machine in this fashion, its pretty simple. Amy has to go to the mall, right? You should know that by now, she's told us that eight...HUNDRED times. At this point, Amy doesn't even like Russ on a platonic level - there's no way she's going to devote the next eight hours to giving him a chance to prove his romantic worth. That's why the whole shrinking thing is a total puts them both in a situation of peril, that they need to overcome...together. How cute IS THAT?!

Incredibly, this seemingly awful situation works to Russ' benefit on a ton of levels. First and foremost, it absolutely annihilates any chance Amy had of escaping his advances. Sure, she might still hate him by the end of the movie, but at least Russ can take salvage in knowing that she really does hate him. Secondly, Russ now has the opportunity to prove that he's not some sissyboy football-quitting pansy with dirty sneakers - in this bold makeshift jungle, he can prove to Amy that he's a real man, like Montel Williams, or Dr. Rocket.

Montel: The man should call the toss...wear the pants, and be the boss! Men should be the misters...and the masters...of their sisters! Men should cut the lawn...change the tire...mend the worn!

Preach it, Montel, whatever it is you're talking about. Point is, Russ now has Amy right where he wants her -- really, really small and wearing pink. Now the face the horizon, and my, quite the horizon it is!

For those of you facing the challenge of understanding this without ever having seen Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, let me piece the puzzle together for you a bit. Rick Moranis plays some sort of nerdy inventor who hits his head a lot. In every movie he's ever been in. Its more of the same here, only this time he's managed to turn his attic into a developmental facility to build his magnificent shrinking laser. Since the kids are so tiny, he doesn't notice 'em, and sweeps them into the trash. Amazingly enough, Moranis is the only guy in history who not only brings the trashbag outside the second its full -- he's also the only guy who brings out the trash bags when they're half full. Now, free of their garbage prison, the kids face an impossible mission: crossing the grass back to the house. Can they do it? Of course they can, this is Disney. The real question is -- can Russ and Amy find romance by the time they do? Well, lesson four might help.

Lesson Four: Take Charge, Be Masculine, Berate Brother.

Russ needs to make Amy realize that he can take charge and be strong. Keeping a straight face wearing that shirt takes some amount of fortitude, but it just ain't enough. Since there's no giant insects to save anyone from yet, Russ does the next best thing: screams his brother's head off, insisting that 'he's the boss.' Little Ron was about as annoying as anyone who's ever lived, but he really didn't do much to warrant Russ exploding on him from out of nowhere. So is Russ one of those weird kids you avoided in school because he had the tendency to leap at and bite anything that came too close without warning? Nahhh....this is all part of his master plan!

By yelling at his little brother, Russ safely establishes himself as a 'leader' figure, someone Amy has no choice but to follow, and eventually respect. Russ was taught that whenever you get a girl to respect you, you get in her pants. Now before you go blaming his father for such an anti-lesson, the ol' fisherman's not to blame. I hate doing this considering the movie was such an unparalleled classic for kids back then, but I think you all deserve to learn the truth about what's going on in this movie. Yes, its all been a clever ploy by Russ to get Amy's hand, but Russ really isn't the brains behind the operation. Here's what happened right before the cameras started rolling...

Russ: Montel, I want Amy. How can I make her like me?
Montel: Shrink the bitch. You're the man, you gotta take control huzza situation.
Russ: Huzza situation?
Montel: Sim simma!
Russ: You don't talk like that, Montel. Now, what defines a 'man', anyway? Respond in a rhyme, please.
Montel: Hmmm... Okay, got it. "Men should know the right indulge evasions."
Russ: Pretty good, now drive the point home.
Montel: A man should wax a car...fix a fuse, and tend the bar! Beat that!
Russ: Wait a're quoting Shock Treatment again, aren't you?
Montel: ...yeah.

Proof positive, Montel poisoned young Russ' mind with his chauvinist ways, and now the poor boy won't rest until Amy realizes he's the right one for her. Jesus Christ, what am I doing? It all started out so innocently, I was just going to review this movie. Then it turned into a post about romance, and now we're at Montel Williams. By the time I'm through, I'm sure we can somehow incorporate dolphins into this. Talking dolphins. Then again, this lesson isn't one of brevity, we better hold steady and move on to lesson five...

Lesson Five: Fight The Bees.

To Russ, Amy's little brother was a complete obtrusion and obstacle in the way of his destined love. For the rest of us, he's the annoying kid with the calculator. To the delight of everyone, he accidentally latches on to a vicious bee and heads off into the air, possibly never to be seen again. We all should be happy, right?

Wrong - as wonderful as it sounds to finally have little Nick out of the way of things, Russ can't ignore the opportunity of a lifetime - save him, and he's automatically in good with Dreamgirl™. I don't remember my reaction to this whole bee fiasco back when I first saw the movie as a ten-year-old, but I'd say it stands up pretty well against all the other movies with giant bees. Actually, come to think of it, I can't think of a single Rick Moranis movie that I didn't like. Let's see...he was in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Little Shop of Horrors, My Blue Heaven, a lotta classics. I'm willing to ignore the voice appearances in Gravedale High. I'm not too sure why he's reserved mainly for kiddie movies these days, I guess the natural transition on his last name between 'Moranis' and 'Moronis' was too great a pro for producers to resist when casting movies meant for six-year-olds. But Rick's not the star of our story, Russ is. And he's about to up the ante on the heroism factor in a big way...

Not only did Russ save little Nick from the killer bee, he saved Amy from drowning in a pond of muddy water! And while dirty CPR isn't the most noted ideal situation for a first kiss -- you really think Russ is gonna pass up the chance? I think not. At least now he'll have bragging rights at school. Sure, Amy might have been unconscious with a throat full of muck, but technically, they did kiss. Anyway, now that Russ has saved her and her brother's life, Amy finally starts to see a little more in him than before. And its a good thing she has, otherwise a very special person's very personal sacrifice would've been all for naught. You know who I'm talking about...its the Fisherman Guy!

Break out the sad face emoticons, Fisherman Guy traveled all the way in thinking he had a nice vacation planned with Russ' family...but since Russ and Ron are tiny and in the grass, looks like the trip is off. Look at his solemn face -- he really wanted fun fishing with the Thompsons. A lot of people have made some serious sacrifices for Russ and Amy's blossoming romance...if it doesn't pull through, the dissapointment'll stretch for miles.

I've always wondered what became of the Fisherman Guy. He just bursts on the scene midway through the movie exuding more charisma than a piano-playing chicken, and just as soon, he's back on the road. I think that's why the critics were so harsh on this movie...Fisherman Guy appearing for just a minute or so was an awful tease. Here we are getting emotionally prepared for all the crazy shenanigans only FG could provide, and just like that, he's taken from us. All for Russ and Amy. These two better appreciate what everyone's putting aside for 'em. I know I do, Fisherman Guy.

Russ has proven himself time and time again, but relationships are 50/50. Now its Amy's turn to show she's more than a slice of pie. Check out lesson six...

Lesson Six: Taming Wild Ants Displays Maternal Qualities

Russ isn't just looking for a girlfriend, he's looking for a mother of his children. The ongoing theme of this flick's romantic understory has been making lemonade out of all the horrible giant lemons, so Amy proves her mom-like qualities by taming the giant, beastly ant to the point where its face miraculously seems to be smiling.

When Amy calms the big bug with a big chunk of cookie, you'll notice Russ in the background, nodding silently to himself. He knows Amy is the right one for him. If Amy can turn a big ant into a googly child willing to allow four heavy kids to harness it, surely she'd make a great mother. Important things to consider. Now that Amy's proven her worth, there's just one more lesson left for us to take a look at. Its tricky, its a little sneaky, but for a perfect working relationship, its an absolute must.

Final Lesson: Knowing When To Start A Fight For No Reason

As silly as it sounds, fighting every now and again is really healthy for a relationship. Makeup sex, remember Seinfeld? Surviving a fight is important here, Russ needs to know that this love can withstand the good times and the bad. Its easy to be all hearts and balloons when the going's good, but how will Amy react to a situation that takes a little work?

So, Russ picks the worst reason ever to get mad at someone -- he bitches at Amy because she wants to go to the mall when she gets home. I'm serious. It comes out of nowhere, one second everyone's getting along thing you know, Russ is storming off making a pouty face. Poor Amy. How was she supposed to know malls were a sour spot with Russ? Traditionally, everyone loves malls. But if there's one thing Russ ain't, its traditional. Hence the shirt.

Amy takes it in stride though, as any good girlfriend would, accepting Russ' one tragic flaw and deciding to find it charming instead of ruining a perfectly good thing. And to the victor goes the spoils -- our lesson plan pays off in a huge way.

They kiss, they get big, and their warring families put aside their differences long enough to have a giant turkey dinner. As you can see, the seven-step program worked wonders for Russ and Amy, who by now are probably married with kids and ants. Can it work for you? There's only one way to find out. Meantime, let's pay homage to the people who made today's great love possible for the two kids...without them, Russ and Amy would never had been able to play footsies under the table. And then the movie's happy ending just wouldn't be quite so happy. Respect the heroes:

- Matt

Make sure you vote for Christopher Walken in the Underground Open! Don't fail me - he's being hammered by a sorry excuse for an Optimus Prime.

Shouts to: Freakfarm, BadAssMofo, Temptation Kitties, and School of Ass!