thoughtsHoney, I Shrunk The Kids reboot

The Disney movie Honey, I Shrunk The Kids debuted in 1989, nearly 30 years ago. It spawned two sequels and a TV show that ran for three seasons, it has huge name recognition... it's due for a reboot.

The following is my proposed script outline for that reboot.

The titular "Honey" in this movie is our inventor; a gender-nonconforming scientist named Avery Szalinski. (It should be noted that although Avery is nebbishy and nerdy and scatterbrained, their gender identity is never, itself, a punchline.)

Executive: And you, I assume, are either Mister or Missus Szalinski?

Avery: Uh... it's Doctor Szalinski, actually...

Executive: Ah. Well then, I don't suppose you could take a quick look at this thing on my back, could you?

Avery: I... suppose I could, yes...

Executive (lifting shirt): Yeah, it's been getting bigger, and it's a little tender to the touch. I think it's either a cyst or a boil. What's the difference between a cyst and a boil?

Avery (tentatively probing growth): I admit, I have no idea. Although, if you're concerned about it, you should probably see a medical doctor of some sort...

The titular "I" is Avery's wife and the mother of two of the shrunken kids, a harried but understanding and supportive woman by the name of Melanie. Melanie Szalinski works for an advertising firm in San Francisco, where the family lives... but at the start of the film, she has accepted a new, higher-paying job in New York, which will uproot the family (and move them out of the house they own and into an apartment in Brooklyn that's half the size).

Avery: Mel, you don't even want this job.

Mel: It's true, but... Avery, we have to go where the money is, right? It's not just about us, we've got two kids to think of. And with the university firing you...

Avery: Letting me go.

Mel: Letting you go, yes. And letting your salary go. And your benefits.

Avery: I kept telling them, the Szalinski spatio-contraction model doesn't contradict string theory or relativity, you just have to understand how the curvature of spacetime can be modified by exotic-

Mel: Honey? You're doing it again.

Avery: I know, it's just... so frustrating to be rejected like that. Not understood.

Mel: They've given you over a million dollars in grants over ten years, let's just be grateful we don't have to pay it all back...

Avery has been trying to create a sort of warp engine that shrinks the space between two objects. His apparatus looks like a bare closet with two pedestals on either side, and the idea is that he turns it on, then push-teleports a baseball from one pedestal to the other... except so far, no matter what he tries, when he turns it on, all he gets is a tumultuous gust of wind in all directions. Avery has not given up on the concept, but no longer has the resources to pursue this dream.

The Szalinski house is being purchased by their nextdoor neighbour, a bro-ish blustery alpha-male-type by the name of Barry Villarey. Barry plans to separate the house into apartments and rent it out to coders.

Barry: I'm telling ya, Doc, it's not a gender thing. It's just... whoever makes more money in the relationship wears the pants, y'know? Jeanine's got her 3D-printed dollhouse furniture thing she does, and that's all good and cute, but I'm the one who's really out there making it, if you know what I mean.

Avery: I don't know if "make" is really the right word for what you do...

Barry: What was that?

Avery: Well, it's just, I mean, you're buying a house that you didn't build, and you're converting it into apartments, and you're charging people rent, it's just, I don't know that I'd use make as the verb for-

Barry: I made a deal with the bank, I'm making your house into apartments, I'm going to make people pay rent, I'm going to make a bunch of money. Y'know, as opposed to taking a million dollars of other people's money and turning it into the world's most expensive fan. Does that make sense? Doc?

Avery: I guess it does, Barry. Certainly can't argue with money.

Barry: You know why your car depreciates in value, but the value of property goes up over time? It's because space is the one thing they can't ever make more of.

Avery: Well, if my Szalinski contraction engine worked, we could all live on Mars or Alpha Centauri. Although, going by some of my newer calculations, it's looking less like a warp engine that takes a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, and more like shrinking the space, causing Alpha Centauri to suddenly be right next to us.

Barry: Yeesh. Guess we should be glad you never succeeded, huh?

There are, of course, four kids in the equation - two Szalinskis and two Villareys.

Nick Szalinski is naturally bright, but has never enjoyed school... with the exception of gym class. He has hoop dreams, but despite his enthusiasm for basketball, he's never taken seriously because he's barely five feet tall, and given his parentage, likely won't grow taller than five-foot-six. It doesn't help that Mel is always too busy to see his games and Avery's twentieth-century mindset sees Nick's "jock" behaviour as a rejection of science, and, therefore, themself.

Ron Villarey is a classic bad boy, a rebel with too many causes. He's sullen and ungrateful, views anyone with money as a corporate stooge, views anyone over thirty as hopelessly out-of-touch, and won't hesitate to speak his mind about polluting oil pipelines, the cruelty of the meat industry, the injustice of foreign wars, and apartheid (despite being repeatedly informed that apartheid ended long before he was born).

Amy Szalinski is a creative type, immersed in writing and art. She has a deep, deep crush on Ron Villarey and has written some deeply embarrassing fiction wherein "Amy O'Neil" and "Ron Thompson" have adventures and smooch. She is devastated to be moving away from San Francisco.

Barry Villarey Junior (typically just "Junior") is a baby.

Ron has overheard and misinterpreted enough of his father's complaints about Avery Szalinski's finances to be convinced that Avery has, in fact, stolen over a million dollars in taxpayer-funded grant money, and that this money is somewhere within the Szalinski household. With the Szalinskis about to move away from San Francisco (getting away!), Ron has it in his head that now's the best time to infiltrate the packed up household and search for the secret stash.

Amy convinces Nick to skip their last day of school (faking a note from the Doc, ostensibly to help their mother pack, but actually to go over to the Villarey household in the hopes of seeing Ron one last time). The Szalinski kids are informed by Mrs. Villarey that Ron must be out somewhere - so frustrating, he was supposed to be watching Junior! Mrs. Villarey uses a find-a-friend-GPS feature on Ron's phone and is surprised to see he's currently in the Szalinski property next door. Amy (who frequently babysits) happily takes Junior and his stuffed rabbit in a backpack-style baby carrier, and she and Nick go to see what's up.

Amy and Nick find Ron poking around in their attic, clearly pawing through their stuff. Nick confronts Ron about trespassing, Ron yells accusations that their parents are thieves, the two boys get into a tussle, all four get into the "teleporter" as it fires up, and, of course, they all shrink.

The shrinking process didn't get all of them equally... in fact, it seems to have reversed their relative sizes. Junior is a full inch from nose to toes, Amy is a half inch tall (small enough to ride the baby like a chubby pony), Nick is a quarter inch tall, and Ron is now the smallest at an eighth of an inch. Just as Amy has separated the two boys and convinced them to stop fighting so they can find a way to call for help... the movers arrive to pack things into the truck outside.

Cue approximately ten straight minutes of madcap slapstick and near-miss catastrophes that ends with the four kids somewhere outside in the tiny strip of grass that passes for a front lawn in San Francisco (and, of course, primarily serves as a restroom for passing dogs). The kids' assorted tech devices still function, but have no connectivity to the differently-scaled cell networks, to wi-fi, or to each other. Nick rides Junior, Amy puts Ron in the baby carrier, and they set out to find the nearest communications device they have a hope of using.

Meanwhile, Avery has already flown to New York and is reluctantly setting up the apartment they don't want to move to. The kids were supposed to be travelling up with Mel and all their stuff the next day. Mel, however, came home from work to find that they've skipped school (ostensibly with her spouse's permission), and now believes they're already in New York. She sees a notification that the teleporter has been used, and assumes the movers accidentally turned it on. She spends the afternoon tidying up the now mostly-empty home and sighing at things. She gets on the phone to Avery, to tell them how much she misses everyone already.

Mel (digging through bin of vacuum cleaner): Y'know I'm really gonna miss this place.

Avery: Yeah, me too. What's that noise?

Mel: Oh, I was vacuuming and I think I sucked up the backs of one of my earrings. Trying to find it now.

Avery: Vacuuming, huh? Better be careful, I hear nature abhors those things.

Mel (finding a 1:12 scale stuffed rabbit): Yeah. Hey, Aves?

Avery: What?

Mel (turning the tiny bunny between her fingertips): What if what you made wasn't a fan? What if it was a vacuum?

Avery: How do you mean?

Mel: Well, what if you shrank the space between the two pedestals, but nature, abhoring a vacuum, just made more space? What if what you were doing was shrinking the air, and that created a vacuum, and that's why it generated all that wind?

Avery: Huh. I never took air pressure into account. I guess that... kinda makes sense? Say, could you put the kids on? I wanna tell them about the new bedroom they're gonna have to share.

[Mel finally turns the bunny enough so that she sees what it is.]

Avery: Babe?

Mel: Honey? [dramatic dolly zoom to face] ...I gotta call you back.

Mel frantically searches the house, digging through boxes, then rushing outside to the moving van on the curb (narrowly avoiding stepping on the kids as she passes right over them) to dig through those boxes as well. Amy tries to goad Junior to turn around, but he's had a long day and is fussy. Nick, seeing the baby crying, decides to smack him to make him cry louder to get his mom's attention, but this doesn't work either. Ron is upset to see Nick hitting his little brother, and struggles to get out of the baby carrier to attempt to fight again until the four of them are finally spotted... by a stray cat.

Amy: Guys? Don't. Move.

Ron: You know not every predator is a T Rex, right?

Nick: And that thing about T Rexes not being able to see you if you stand still only worked in the movie because they filled in the genetic gaps with frog DNA.

Ron: Really?

Nick: Yeah. Paleontological evidence suggests that actual T Rexes probably had great vision. And feathers.

Amy: Great science lesson, Nick. How does that help us versus a cat?

Nick: Oh, it doesn't. We're dead.

Ron, ever the rebel, has a cigarette lighter on his person. He manages to light some dead grass, which Amy waves in the cat's face to scare it off. The kids then get the idea to light a larger fire to get Mrs. Szalinski's attention, but she gets distracted by Mrs. Villarey. Jeanine wants to know if Mel has seen Ron or Junior, and, knowing that the woman will never believe her story but not wanting to lie, Mel admits she's out looking for the missing kids now. Jeanine checks her find-a-friend app, but can't track her son, so she assumes he's set his phone to airplane mode... which can only mean the kids have gone to a movie. She attempts to calm Mel down and invites her in for tea, walking away from the tiny plume of smoke in the grass.

Barry Villarey does spot the attempted signal fire, and, cursing inattentive smokers, sprays at it with the hose.

The kids are buffeted with the water, tumbling over each other. They discover the inconvenience of surface tension as Ron's head is coated in a droplet that they can't seem to scoop away. Thinking quickly, Nick ruffles his hand in his gelled hair and uses the hydrophobic chemical to clear Ron's airway.

We may insert additional shrunken shenanigans with insects and garbage and passing cars as needed here.

It's getting dark. The kids are battered and demoralized. Amy struggles to change Junior's diaper, replacing it with attempted origami of the unused corners of a mostly-used Kleenex. Nick forages for food, finding a few crumbs from a protein bar and the last drops at the bottom of a coffee cup (fortunately, from someone who likes it with lots of cream and sugar). Ron is still trying to get their phones to connect to the outside world in some way, and stumbles across some of Amy's writing.

Ron (scrolling through Amy's comparatively newspaper-sized phone): "Ron's heart raced as he pulled Amy from the water. He struggled to recall his CPR training, but then let instinct take over and moved his lips to her mouth, tenderly at first-

Amy (attempting to snatch it away, but inadvertently lifting Ron off the ground with it): Hey, don't read that!

Ron: Why not? It's evidently about me. Oh, I'm sorry - Ron Thompson. It can't be me, Ron Thompson is blond.

Amy: It is not about you, because Ron Thompson is a complicated and sensitive individual who acts like a grownup! He doesn't break into people's houses and accuse them of theft without any evidence, he doesn't try to pick fights with younger kids, and he actually cares about people, instead of pretending to care about sociopolitical issues that he doesn't remotely understand!

Ron: Hey, I understand political issues!

Amy: Really? Which Middle Eastern countries is the U.S. conducting military operations in right now?

Ron: All of them.

Amy: Okay, lucky guess. You still shouldn't be reading people's private creative writing without permission!

Ron: Hey, come on, Amy. [he tries to strike a devil-may-care pose] You know you can't resist me. I know I'm a little small right now, but... what say we play lifeguard, huh?

Amy (looking down at Ron, who only comes up to her knee): Yyyeah, no, not even at full size. Maybe a few hours ago, before I knew who you really are. But you're just as small-minded and small-hearted as that machine made you.

Ron: Ouch, babe.

Nick: Leave her alone, Ron.

Ron: Hey, why don't you make me, Shaquille?

The two boys fight again, and tumble into a crack where Amy can't reach them. They continue scrapping until Ron gets the larger boy into a very tight headlock.

Nick: How... are you... doing this?

Ron: Mmm! Athleticism... not about size, it is!

Nick: Not... how that quote... goes...

Ron: You really should tap out.

Nick: [choking noises]

Ron: you not know how to tap out? It's an MMA thing. You just sorta, like... [makes tappy gesture]

Nick: [taps out]

Ron: Aaaand we're done.

The two boys lie gasping in the crack, and discover some cables that connect to the houses. They reason that if they can damage the wiring to cause a power outage, that might be a large enough disruption to get people's attention. Amy finds a pin and passes it down. Ron bravely volunteers to do the job, since he's got the smallest arms and can reach down where the wire is. Amy voices her objection - surely a short circuit or discharge of any sort will fry Ron like a Texas inmate! Ron, however, brushes these objections off, and ventures into the crevice to begin hacking away at the tough rubber sheathing.

We cut to Mel, who is back in the Szalinski household, surrounded by the boxes she's unpacked and thoroughly rummaged through. Her eyes look as though she's been crying, and she's on the phone to Avery.

Avery: Slow down, babe, slow down. What do you mean, you can't find them?

Mel: They're... they're not at a movie. And I found a bunny, and... and Nick's wallet... and Ron's keys... they're so small, Avery. They've gone so tiny, I can't find them.

Avery: What are you saying?

Mel: I... I think... Honey, I shrunk the - [ringtone] - hang on, I'm getting another call. Hello?

Jeanine: Hey, Mel? Is your router packed up yet? Our Internet just went out, we were wondering if we could use your wi-fi. We're already out of data for the month on our phone plan, and-

Mel checks available networks and sees local wi-fi networks throw up error messages, one by one. She runs to where her modem is, then frantically traces the cable to the outside of the house, then along the side of the building, carefully following with her finger and the flashlight app. Finally, she makes it to the place where Amy is waving an improvised paper flag to get her attention.

Weeping with relief and gratitude, she scoops up the three kids, and cups her hand around her ear to hear them. There is, of course, the requisite dramatic moment where they reveal that Ron has sacrificed himself, until one of them manages to hear him yelling as he crawls out of the crack.

Ron: Fiber optic cables don't carry current, dumbasses!

Cut to: six months later. The Szalinskis are back in their beloved house, which is a whirlwind of activity.

Avery (arranging awards on a shelf, talking on the phone): Really? Another photoshoot? Y'know, I was on the cover of Time last month, I'm sure if you call them up, they'll let you have some of their unused shots from that...


Nick: So they're letting my record stand, because upscaling yourself isn't officially against the rules until next season.

Mel: Oh, that's wonderful, honey! But won't you miss basketball?

Nick: Nah, I was always too rough of a player anyway. Too many fouls. But I'm really starting to get into this MMA stuff...


Jeanine: Barry, sweetheart, we need another gross of 3D printer filament, don't forget to get the good stuff this time! It's important that it be nontoxic!

Barry: Yes dear. You're the boss, dear.


Ron: Hey, I read that latest short story you posted. Your writing's getting a lot better.

Amy: Really? I was crap before, huh?

Ron: Well, no, but your descriptions of kissing were a bit off.

Amy (leaning in): Well, maybe if I had some more inspir- [the doorbell rings] I got it!


dude: Uh, hey, I'm here about the apartment?

Amy: Yeah, that's us! Mom! Tenant!

Mel: Hello, you're here for one of the living spaces?

dude: Yeah, but I think there's an error in your listing. Three bedroom, two bath... a hundred dollars a month?

Mel: Yes, that's right.

dude: Uh... it also says... six square inches?

Mel: That's not a misprint either. If you'll step this way, I'd be happy to give you a tour...

Aaaaand that's roughly how that goes. Of course, the plot can be massaged and additional scenes can be inserted as needed.

I dunno. I'd watch it.

First in SetPrevious in Set