Honey I shrunk those kids
The story is about four kids and a scientific invention that can shrink objects to microscopic size. The inventor is the father of two of the kids. The four kids accidentally get shrunk by this device and find themselves dealing with garden insects that are now gigantic in size compared to them. The story follows their adventures in the garden which is like a big fantasy land given their current size, making alliances with friendlier insects, fighting off hostile insects and making use of their ingenuity to return to their home and establish communication with the scientist. This is a theme in fantasy I would call the interesting point of view – the world here is seen from the point of view of insect sized creatures.
This is actually a story that would have easily been science fiction or fantasy. As science fiction, the science of it is a bit of stretch. I am not sure if there is any scientific way to make objects smaller and bigger like the cake and mushroom in Alice in Wonderland. Also it is not certain if a complex organism like the human with so many organs will be able to exist at such a microscopic size – mostly microorganisms are biologically much simpler. It can possibly be called science fiction only for the reason that the transformation of size is accomplished by an equipment that looks scientific rather than through something magical. In many of the cases this is all the difference between science fiction and fantasy.
The main theme in this movie is a reversal of power equations. Normally insects are small and humans big. Here we have a reversal – the humans are small and the insect bigger. The other theme one can possibly think of is the exploration of the fascinating world that exists in as mundane a place as the lawn in front of one’s house. Just a change in size transforms it into a dangerous jungle with wild creatures. So one gets the typical fantasy element of exploration and adventure.
The other key elements are slapstick comedy and development of relationship between the characters. We have the usual family sentiment, romance, people who do not get along initially forced to work together as a team resulting in them eventually becoming friends. Then we have the bond between a human and a non-human actor – in this case an ant. The main conflict that keep the viewer interested is the escape from all the dangers of the lawn and restoration to normal size working against the various obstacles.
Overall I found it a fun watch and possibly would think it worthwhile to watch it again even now for the taut action, comedy and the innovative idea. No wonder the movie has been so popular that is has spawned not one but two sequels. However I have not had the opportunity to watch the sequels.