Study Guide

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Themes

  • Family

    If there's one thing that doesn't get miniaturized in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, it's family drama.

    On one side of the fence (literally) you have the Szalinskis. With parents Diane and Wayne at odds over Wayne's scatter-brained nature, the family is disconnected on a fundamental level. On the other side you have the Thompsons. Led by uber-manly patriarch Big Russ, this bunch hardly communicates due to a potent mix of insecurity and fear.

    Neither are candidates for "Family of the Year," if you couldn't tell. But when Wayne Szalinski's latest science experiment goes awry and, well, shrinks the kids, these two disjointed clans are forced to fix their problems once and for all.

    Questions About Family

    1. In what ways are the two families similar? In what ways are they different?
    2. How does Diane's view of her husband change over the course of the film?
    3. In what way does the film visually depict the Szalinski family's relationship to one another?
    4. How do Big Russ and Wayne differ in their approaches to parenting?

    Chew on This

    Despite differing details, both families are similar because their primary problem is a lack of communication.

    Although Diane is upset at her husband at first, she eventually realizes that they both have played a role in their family's detachment from each other.

  • Disappointment

    Most of the characters in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids are wrestling with disappointment in some way. Wayne Szalinski is struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a scientist. Big Russ Thompson is struggling with feelings of disappointment that his kids aren't following in his footsteps. And the kids? Well, they're just disappointed that their families are falling apart.

    You might think family therapy would be the best way to mend these fences, but these two disparate clans take a decidedly different route. We'll give you a hint: it involves a shrink ray, an errant baseball swing, and a little bit of empathy. Now that's a triple threat.

    Questions About Disappointment

    1. What is the nature of Wayne's disappointment?
    2. How does Little Russ react to his father's disappointment in him? Does he do this in a healthy way?
    3. How do feelings of disappointment affect each family? Are they affected in a similar way?
    4. Is Diane disappointed with Wayne? Explain your answer.

    Chew on This

    Little Russ deals with his father's disappointment in an unhealthy way because he lets it prevent him from being honest.

    Wayne is disappointed with himself because his failure to make his machine work undermines his self-image as a genius inventor.

  • Science

    Wayne Szalinski is blinding us—with science.

    Though Honey, I Shrunk the Kids might seem like a silly film, it examines the potential impact of an invention as wildly innovative as a shrink ray. It could make shipping goods easier and more cost-effective than ever before. It could forever alter the space program. It could even lead to deliciously oversized food items, minus that whole genetic modification business. Sounds like a dream.

    So put on your thinking cap, fire up your streaming device of choice, and get ready for a crash course in Mad Science-ing 101.

    Questions About Science

    1. Is Wayne a good scientist? Is he an ethical one?
    2. Is Wayne's shrink ray a useful invention? Explain.
    3. In what way does Nick show an interest in science? How does this affect our understanding of his character?
    4. What might be a potential use of shrinking technology that is not mentioned in the film?

    Chew on This

    Wayne is a bad scientist because he fails to make his invention work without outside intervention.

    Wayne is a good scientist because random chance always plays a role in scientific innovation.

  • Friendship

    The best way to make friends is to shrink the distance between you and another person. (Hey-o!)

    At it's core, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is all about friendship. Whether we're talking about the unlikely camaraderie between jocks and nerds, the growing bond between next-door crushes, or the most emotionally affecting relationship between human and insect ever depicted, the film shows us that the wildest circumstances often create the strongest bonds.

    Questions About Friendship

    1. How does Ron's friendship with Antie affect him on a personal level?
    2. Why is it meaningful that Big Russ and Wayne become friends by the end of the film?
    3. What leads Amy to develop romantic feelings for Little Russ? Do these feelings seem sincere?
    4. How does the relationship between Nick and Ron change over the course of the film?

    Chew on This

    Ron's friendship with Antie shows him that love and respect can be powerful.

    Big Russ and Wayne becoming friends is meaningful because it represents both men letting go of their assumptions of each other and their respective ways of life.