Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves showed that Disney’s Honey trilogy was sort of running out of ideas. After shrinking kids and enlarging a toddler, what’s the next logical step? Shrinking the adults I guess. It’s most likely why the movie became the first live-action direct-to-video Disney movie. In fact, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves is surprisingly significant for several reasons. It’s sadly the last live-action performance from Rick Moranis. Before he decided to retire from acting. It also features a Pre-Smallville Allison Mack. And more surprisingly, Mila Kunis in one of her first acting roles. Like I said, Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves shrinks the adults instead of the kids. Giving Wayne Szalinski, his wife (recast), his brother, and his brother’s wife a chance to experience being small. Only this time all the action is kept in the house. With Hot Wheels racing, bubble travel, and a giant cockroach. I enjoyed Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves when I was younger, but it doesn’t hold up much when I’m older. The adults were never really that funny to begin with. Most of it is just mom and dad jokes. Plus the effects have gotten more primitive. Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves just thinks too small.
Mitch sees his mother
Preceded by: Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid takes Disney’s Honey trilogy in a far bigger direction… literally. While Honey, I Shrunk the Kids focused entirely on shrinking, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid now focuses on enlarging. Which is a whole other kind of movie entirely. Even though the title makes it sound like a heartbreaking tragedy. Four years after Rick Moranis’ Wayne Szalinski perfected shrink technology, he now works in a fancy new laboratory where he tries to perfect a grow ray. Unfortunately, the machine backfires and ends up affecting his 2 year old son Adam. Along with the stuffed bunny he was testing it on. The entire Szalinski family returns, but Wayne’s wife Diane is still absent for a majority of the first act and their daughter Amy leaves for college. Nick is present, but he’s now a girl crazy teenager who’s into music. After blowing up the kid, Adam steadily grows more and more every time he comes into contact with electricity. Until all of Las Vegas becomes his own personal playground. The effects are once again very impressive. It may lack the small scale danger of the original, but Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is another childhood favorite of mine. I guarantee it’s the cutest version of Godzilla you’ll ever see.
Adam Szalinski stomps around Vegas
Preceded by: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids & Followed by: Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is the quintessential shrinking movie for kids who grew up in the 90’s. I’ve seen it numerous times when I was a kid (that includes the Roger Rabbit cartoon it came with). Shrinking movies aren’t exactly a new concept, but they definitely don’t get made often. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is the first installment in, I guess you would call it, the Honey trilogy. It’s also the directorial debut of director Joe Johnston. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids focuses on a cooky inventor and father of two. His latest invention that he can’t seem to make work is a shrink ray. At least until his son, daughter, and two neighbor boys accidentally get shrunk. Everything just gets worse when the kids wind up in the backyard. Which to them resembles a dangerous jungle. Where insects are the size of animals, LEGO’s become apartments, lawn mowers resemble natural disasters, and Cheerios are liferafts. Its mixture of practical and special effects are especially impressive. It’s the only time I’ve ever felt sad over an ant (RIP Antie). Of all the nerdy characters Rick Moranis has played, Wayne Szalinski is my personal favorite. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is easily one of the best original live-action Disney movies.
Wayne Szalinski and his wife look at their kids
Followed by: Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
People had very high expectations for Annihilation, but it’s hard to say if it succeeds or not. After the critically acclaimed Ex_Machina (see that review here), all eyes were on Alex Garland’s next project. Which turned out to be an adaptation of the best-selling novel Annihilation. Annihilation follows a team of women that journey from a military base called “Area X,” into an electromagnetic field known as “the Shimmer.” Where flora and fauna is constantly mutating. Natalie Portman plays the lead biologist along with four other actresses you may be familiar with. The threats, including an alligator and a bear, are very disturbing. Its atmosphere is just as unsettling as Ex_Machina, but I didn’t really get the same experience while watching Annihilation. When I first saw the trailer, I wasn’t exactly sold on the concept. It was either the setting or the visuals that felt off to me. Despite that I still planned on seeing Annihilation in theaters. It didn’t happen though since it wasn’t playing in my theater. Annihilation mostly works, but it’s really confusing at times. I didn’t read the novel, but apparently it wasn’t 100% faithful to the book either. Whatever your opinion, Annihilation leaves you with plenty to talk about.
The expedition team enters the shimmer
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen brings together many characters from great works of literature. It’s also yet another early 2000’s comic book adaptation that should never have been made as soon as it was. Long before Watchmen (see that review here) was released, LXG was the Alan Moore team up movie hated by its own creator. It’s a lot easier to see why he hated this so much. I never read the graphic novel, but you can tell his usual dark wit and nuance is missing. This is from the director of Blade afterall. So it’s definitely style over substance. Like so many other superhero related movies, I first saw LXG on FX. It seemed somewhat promising at first, but it wound up boring me to death. LXG is notoriously the movie that made Sean Connery quit acting. Let’s just say turning down the role of Gandalf was the worst career decision he ever made. Connery plays African adventurer/hunter Allan Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines. Never heard of him. He’s recruited to be the leader of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. A team which consists of: Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a vampire version of Mina Harker from Dracula, an Invisible Man not from The Invisible Man, Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Tom Sawyer (for some reason). They’re up against the Fantom from The Phantom of the Opera who turns out to be Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. Bad special effects, lifeless characters, and an unappealing look make The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen another waste of an interesting premise.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: (left to right) Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Dorian Gray, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Mina Harker, Invisible Man, and Tom Sawyer
Guess Who came out when interracial relationships were common. So unlike the movie it’s loosely remaking, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, it doesn’t exactly strike the same cord. Since interracial marriage was illegal in most states back then. Only starting to change at that point in the 60’s. The only thing interracial couples have to face in present day are stares from idiots. Which is why Guess Who plays out more as a straight up comedy. Guess Who also flips the races of the couple. Making it about a white man and a black woman instead of the other way around. Something I can relate to a little more since my mom is black and my dad is white. The one thing they don’t do which I feel takes away from the message is not having the boyfriend’s family. Instead we just see a black families perspective. Making the movie feel unbalanced and at times unfocused. Guess Who is more concerned with disapproving father antics. Even if Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, and Zoe Saldana are trying their best. You don’t really get the same hard hitting social commentary that the original had. Guess Who could have worked if it didn’t treat everything like a joke. Luckily another movie came out a year later that did it better (see that review here).
Simon confronts Theresa’s father
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is one of the first movies to depict an interracial relationship/kiss. Since the 60’s was the biggest decade for change. So of course Sidney Poitier is the actor they chose to play the black man in the relationship with a white woman. Like his other roles in 1967 (To Sir, with Love and In the Heat of the Night), Sidney Poitier plays a dignified man with a respectable career. Doctor in this case. Despite that, his fiancé’s parent’s still have their reservations. Even though he’s sort of too good for her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s fine, but a little unwilling to see the big picture. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is all about how Joey’s parents react to her engagement. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn play her parents in there sixth and final performance together. Of course they don’t just limit things to a white families perspective. As John’s family comes over to join them for dinner. Giving both sides a chance to react. With all of it ending with a powerful speech from the late Spencer Tracy. Despite my reviewing order, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was actually the first Sidney Poitier movie I saw. Plus it was nominated for Best Picture. It’s also notable for predicting the future. Since Poitier’s character makes a casual comment about their kids being President of the United States. Guess Whos’ Coming to Dinner will always make me happy that I was born. Since my parents are an interracial couple.
Dr. Prentice meets Joanna’s parents
The Wizard, much like the Power Glove, is so bad. By far the most high selling Black Friday present for any kid from the 80’s to the present are video games. Which is what The Wizard turns out to be when you strip away all the story and characters. A glorified commercial for video games. Nintendo to be specific (as well as Universal Studios near the end). So releasing the movie close to Christmas was a clever marketing ploy on their part. The Wizard of course stars late 80’s early 90’s “it kid” Fred Savage. He’s part of a trio of kids that includes himself, a girl that reluctantly helps out, and his unresponsive young half brother, all heading to California. They discover the kid, Jimmy, is a wizard at playing video games. So they enter him in a gaming competition to prove it. The Wizard is every bit as cheesy as it sounds. Although I was surprised by how long it took to get to the games. The most infamous moment of product placement involves the Power Glove. A product launched the same year as the movie. That became a colossal failure, but birthed many memes in the process. It’s most successful product placement though was for Super Mario Bros. 3. An unreleased game that kids were seeing for the first time. The Wizard may be a product of its time, but there’s no denying that they knew what they were doing.
“I love the Power Glove, it’s so bad”
P.S. It’s much more fun to play games then it is to watch people play games.
The Last of the Mohicans is a story that has been passed down for generations. The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 was first written in 1826. It is the second book in a series titled the Leatherstocking Tales. It has been adapted to film dozens of times. With its first American adaptation being released in 1936. I was unaware that that version existed, but I hear it was the main source of inspiration for the far more well known 1992 version. The Last of the Mohicans recounts the French and Indian War. In the middle of it is a revenge seeking Native American named Magua. Who seeks to kill the daughters of the man responsible for the death of his children. The only man standing in his way is one who walks in both worlds. A white man adopted into the Mohican tribe called Hawkeye. This was actually the first Daniel Day-Lewis movie that I saw. As well as the first movie I saw directed by Michael Mann. Although its complicated history may be hard to understand at times, The Last of the Mohicans makes up for it in easy to understand romance and action. That’s complemented by a very clear message. The title refers to a dying people that should be remembered and never forgotten. Something all Native Americans deserve. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Hawkeye fights with the last of the Mohicans
In the Heat of the Night is the first movie to win Best Picture with a black lead. It’s also the last movie to win Best Picture without an official MPAA rating (as the following year was the first to introduce it). At this point I realized that Sidney Poitier was the biggest black actor working in Hollywood back in the 60’s. As if he was the only actor they wanted to break new ground. That’s why my mom loved his movies so much. In the Heat of the Night was always close to the top of her suggested movies. So I knew it was very important that I see it. In the Heat of the Night takes place in a southern city where a high profile murder has just taken place. Sidney Poitier portrays a police officer/homicide detective named Virgil Tibbs, who gets falsely arrested by a racist white cop (despite his wearing a well-tailored suit). It’s only when they find out who he is that they begrudgingly accept his help on the case. In the Heat of the Night is the first movie to feature a black man striking back at a white man. Almost completely unheard of back then. It’s also best remembered for its line, “they call me Mister Tibbs!” and the theme sung by Ray Charles. Sidney Poitier wasn’t nominated for Best Actor, but his co-star Rod Steiger was (and won). He portrays the police chief in a way where he’s not too far one way or another. In the Heat of the Night is a very important film and one that teaches us the timeless lesson not to judge a person by their outward appearance.
Detective Virgil Tibbs (left) sits beside Officer Gillespie (right)