Honey I Shrunk the Kids is a late 80's kids classic with bags of humour and plenty of impressively imaginative special effects. It's a family orientated update on those incredible shrinking man movies of the 1950's. Naturally, the sequel requires the same but different and so instead of ant sized teenagers we get a toddler who ends up the size of a block of flats. The original film is somewhat infamous, musically, for the legal grief that James Horner got for pilfering Nino Rota's zany theme from Amarcord. Someone had to notice in the end. While nowhere near as successful in terms of quality assignments, Bruce Broughton is a much more original and interesting composer. It's true that Honey, I Blew Up the Kid has its Carl Stalling moments, but, like Alan Silvestri, Broughton's style fits Stalling's classic manic cartoon musical groove like a glove.
Two main themes dominate; the first is a quirky theme for Rick Moranis' mad-inventor dad and the second is a sweet lullaby for the ever expanding toddler. The latter can become a little more sweeping where necessary, but the former is most malleable, endlessly varied and shaped to fit under Broughton's busy action music. Perhaps the highlight of this is the boisterous four and a half minutes of Car Flight which races around energetically, Broughton's bristling orchestration pitched perfect to sustain the momentum, but without becoming overcrowded. Although Broughton isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve from time to time, there is a cheerful breeziness throughout the quieter sections that prevents maudlin and the kind of sugary melodrama that dogs even the most delightful of family scores.
While it doesn't quite rank with his greatest dramatic efforts such as Tombstone or even Lost in Space, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is a disarmingly infectious delight. That Broughton isn't a regular composer for more high quality family films - imagine what he could do with a Pixar film, or even one of Disney's song-free recent outings such as Atlantis; Broughton is certainly the equal of James Newton Howard or Randy Newman. Still, we can enjoy this past glory, a witty, tuneful and memorable score with rarely a weak moment, all capped by some terrific playing by the Hollywood musicians and the kind of recording clarity that even a Deutsche Grammophon engineer would be proud of. Sadly a touch difficult to find these days, but something to snap up without hesitation if a copy should present itself.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
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