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At the Movies: “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid″

July 14, 1992

Undated (AP) _ The idea of a toddler suddenly grown as big as the Empire State Building is a parent’s nightmare and a joke writer’s dream. The comic possibilities seem endless.

But in ″Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,″ the laughs run out early and the balance of the film relies on special effects to tickle the audience’s funny bone.

Those effects are technically marvelous, but when a Japanese tourist spotting a 50-foot-tall child, exclaims, ″Godzilla?″ to his friend’s reply: ″No, Big Baby 3/8″ we realize such visual wizardry is not new, just more sophisticated.

Giant creatures have stalked movie screens since the early days of cinema. ″King Kong″ gave us a huge gorilla. ″Godzilla″ was a mammoth, prehistoric creature. Even Woody Allen used the technique with a giant sized mother hovering over the city in ″New York Stories.″

Never before, however, has a screen giant worn diapers. And therein may lie the problem.

Giants are supposed to be scary, monster-like creatures. Even if ″King Kong″ had a heart of gold, his size, appearance and growl threatened peanut- size people who fled in his wake. Ultimately, he was a tragic victim.

In ″Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,″ baby Adam is neither monster nor victim. He’s just big.

As a sequel to the highly successful, ″Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,″ this film once more focuses on Wayne, a wacky inventor portrayed with nerd-like intensity by Rick Moranis.

Wayne’s household runs on weird contraptions. Robot-like machines do the cleaning and pick up garbage. Wayne wears a bizarre helmet containing a remote telephone and drives a solar-powered combination van and laboratory.

His wife, Diane, played with vacuous sincerity by Marcia Strassman, happily uses the gadgets and urges teen-age son Nick to emulate his father. Robert Oliveri is an energetic, engaging Nick who’s smitten with Adam’s pretty baby sitter, Mandy, played by Keri Russell.

When Wayne is hired by a high-tech outfit to reverse the experiment that once shrunk his kids, he succeeds all too well and accidentally enlarges his two-year-old son, Adam.

The ballooning baby has something to do with electromagnetic fields, and Adam keeps growing when near microwave ovens, TV sets, power lines and neon lights.

Baby Adam, as portrayed by twins Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, is a curly haired cutie with a baby-food-bland personality. He manages to sing, ″Twinkle Twinkle Little Star″ and to stomp around on his elephant sized feet, but no acting awards are in danger here.

Director Randal Kleiser and visual effects producer Thomas G. Smith have come up with some cute gags - such as having brother Nick and the baby sitter caught in Adam’s pocket.

But no one is seriously threatened, and a subplot involving a big bad executive at the high-tech firm fails to create the needed pathos. Lloyd Bridges has a brief, unchallenging role as the company owner.

For summer viewing, this is definitely kid stuff.

″Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,″ is rated PG with nothing to offend the youngsters unless they’re upset by big babies. It is being released by Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures. Running time is 89 minutes.

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Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G - General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG - Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 - Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R - Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 - No one under 17 admitted.

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