Rick Moranis returns to portray Wayne Szalinski. He is the only returning cast member from the previous films. His wife, Diane, is portrayed by Eve Gordon, and their youngest son Adam, now a preteen, is played by Bug Hall. Amy and Nick have gone off to college (as discussed between Diane and Adam in the film). This film includes Wayne's extended family, including his brother Gordon and his wife, Patti. Unlike the first film, where the kids had to get their parents' attention, the parents have to get their kids' attention.
Only a few months after this film was released, the Disney Channel picked up a show based on the Szalinskis' troubles: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show. It starred Peter Scolari in the role of Wayne. This was the last incarnation of the franchise; this is also Disney's first live-action movie to get a direct-to-video release.
Eight years after the events of the previous film, Adam Szalinski, now a preteen, just wants to be a normal boy and go to baseball camp, but his interest in sports seems almost alien to his parents Wayne and Diane, as Amy and Nick, who are currently living away from home, were both a thespian and genius respectively. Wayne has also started his own lab "Szalinski Labs" with his brother Gordon, and the two receive tickets to witness a shuttle landing, but Diane interrupts Wayne's message, reminding him that he needs to watch Adam and his cousins, Jenny and Mitch, while she and Gordon's wife Patty go on vacation. She also reminds him to get rid of Tiki Man that she sees as an eyesore, though Wayne considers it his good luck charm (not to mention something that could earn him a fortune one day).
After the women leave, Wayne and Gordon have activities planned that bore the children. Wayne sends them to the store, but reveals to Gordon that it is a ruse to get rid of them long enough so that he can use his shrink ray in order to shrink the Tiki Man down without Diane's knowledge, and without the risk of unintentionally shrinking the kids. However, by an act of carelessly not turning the machine back off first thing after they succeed, Wayne and Gordon are both shrunk when a pool ball on the machine falls out of place and falls onto the button while they are in front of it searching out the Tiki Man. Meanwhile, Patty realizes she forgot to leave Mitch the pills for his potassium deficiency and they head back. Hoping to catch their husbands by surprise, they sneak up to the attic, and are shrunk when another pool ball falls onto the machine's button. Shortly after, the kids return home and; after hearing Wayne's message about the launch, assume they are alone for the evening, and Jenny makes plans to have some friends come over. Upstairs, the adults make use of a fishing rod and line to lower themselves down into Adam's room. To attempt to get to the floor, they use a Hot Wheels race track, but they overshoot their target and fall down the laundry chute ending up in a clean load that is then delivered back upstairs by Adam and Mitch. The four adults tumble out of the laundry basket when it is overturned, and discover Adam and Mitch reading a Sports Illustrated magazine, revealing to Wayne that his son's interest is not in science as he hoped.
Seeing Mitch struggling, Patty realizes that they need to get him his medicine soon, or he could pass out. Mitch ignores his weaknesses, though, and goes downstairs. The parents witness the arrival of Jenny's friends and decide to use a bubble blower in order to get downstairs. The women land safely, but Wayne and Gordon fall into a bowl of dip and are nearly devoured by the ravenous girls.
In the kitchen, when Patty and Diane resolve to find some way up the counter in order to find Mitch's pills and push them into view, they encounter a daddy long-legs with its leg caught in a spider web, and Diane quietly talks to him as Patty tries to cut the webbing with a nail file. Diane realizes her own insecurities about being small as she relates to the bug, whom she had earlier tried to kill, and realizes how hard it is to be that size. After he is freed, Patty and Diane realize they can cling to the spider's silk as it climbs up and onto the counter. Meanwhile, Gordon and Wayne decide to rewire the stereo to work as a microphone, and a group of boys crash the party, including Ricky King, Jenny's crush. He takes Jenny into the kitchen, where he steals a kiss from her, but she spurns him for not asking permission first, thus earning Patty's respect. Angered, he returns to his friends and they begin to wreak havoc in the living room. Mitch, severely weakened enters the kitchen and discovers Patty and Diane on the counter before fainting, partially from his failure to take medicine for his potassium deficiency, and partially from the shock of seeing his miniature mom and aunt. Adam and Jenny discover him, and thinking quickly, Adam gets potassium-rich bananas to feed Mitch, and he begins to recover, weakly saying he had seen his mother. In the living room, Wayne rewires the stereo so that Gordon can talk and amplify his voice so he can pretend to be the voice of God. He orders the children to leave the house, leading Adam, Mitch and Jenny to realize what had happened to them.
In the attic, the kids discuss the benefits of leaving their parents shrunk briefly before deciding they love them more than that. They return them to their normal sizes. Patty confides her trust in Jenny for how she stood up to Ricky, while Wayne tells Adam that he can have an interest in sports, and agrees to sign him up for baseball camp. Diane tells Wayne he can keep his Tiki Man, and won't sweat the "small" stuff anymore, while Wayne decides to relinquish his presidency of Szalinski Labs to the more personable Gordon, while he decides to return to inventing. In the end, life is back to normal again, while Wayne has developed a new respect for baseball, and his Tiki Man has been moved into his backyard and enlarged to twice the height of the house.Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski
Stuart Pankin as Gordon Szalinski
Eve Gordon as Diane Szalinski
Robin Bartlett as Patti Szalinski
Bug Hall as Adam Szalinski
Allison Mack as Jenny Szalinski
Jake Richardson as Mitchell 'Mitch' Szalinski
Jojo Adams as Ricky King
Mila Kunis as Jill, Jenny's Friend
Erica Luttrell as Jody, Jenny's Friend
Lisa Wilhoit as Holly, Jenny's Friend
Ashleigh Sterling as Corky, Jenny's Friend
Theodore Borders as Trey, Ricky's Friend
Bryson Aust as Vince, Ricky's Friend
Laura Dunn as Trina, Wayne's Personal Secretary At Szalinski Labs
Originally, the film was going to be released in 1996 to theaters. Karey Kirkpatrick was called in to write the script, while working on James and the Giant Peach. The finished script was sent in to Jeffrey Katzenberg, who decided that the studio did not want to continue with the film. It was shelved for a few months while Kirkpatrick resumed work on James and the Giant Peach. While working on the film, Kirkpatrick learned that it was going to be picked up again.
The Walt Disney Company at the time was having success with releasing direct-to-video sequels, such as Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves. They wanted to test how live-action sequels would do, so they picked Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves to be their first.
Nell Scovell and Joel Hodgson were recruited to try to reduce Kirkpatrick's script due to the budget restraint. In Kirkpatrick's script, the group of shrunken parents would originally fall into a fishtank. The scene was cut from the script, and then revised to the bubble machine scene. One scene shows one of Wayne's inventions, a machine that translates dog barks to human speech. It is similar to the devices in the "invention exchange" Hodgson did when with Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
Rick Moranis is the only returning cast member from the original films. He returns to portray inventor Wayne Szalinski, now the head of Szalinski Labs. Marcia Strassman, who portrayed his wife Diane in the first two films and in the 3D film would not reprise her role anymore. Eve Gordon, who was best known as Marilyn Monroe in A Woman Named Jackie, was cast as Diane instead.
The onscreen kids, Amy O'Neill and Robert Oliveri, had quit acting by the time the film was released and their characters were only mentioned in a conversation between Diane and Adam. No one replaced Amy or Nick either. Daniel and Joshua Shalikar, who portrayed Adam in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, had signed on for two additional sequels in 1992. They had reprised their role in Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, but Bug Hall replaced them in the part.
Stuart Pankin and Robin Bartlett were cast as Gordon and Patti Szalinski, Wayne's brother and sister-in-law. Allison Mack and Jake Richardson were cast as their children, Jenny and Mitch Szalinski. Mack would later become famous as Chloe Sullivan on Smallville. Two of Jenny's friends in the film are portrayed by Mila Kunis and Lisa Wilhoit. Kunis would later portray Jackie Burkhart on That '70s Show, and voice Meg Griffin on Family Guy while Wilhoit would later voice Connie D'Amico on the same show.
The film marked Dean Cundey's directorial debut, replacing Joe Johnston and Randal Kleiser. Cundey is most-known for his cinematography on films such as Jurassic Park, Hook, and some of John Carpenter's early directorial efforts such as Halloween (as well as its first two sequels), The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, & The Thing. Originally when the film was going to be released to theaters, the production budget was $40 million. When it was announced that the film would be released to home video, the budget was cut down to $7 million.
Due to the production cut, the studio decided to use television resolution to save money on effects by not having to pay for a projectable format. Also, the original script included that the party had gotten out of control with around 150 kids, akin to Sixteen Candles or Say Anything. This was considered too costly and it was cut down.
Despite the smaller budget, the availability of more advanced SFX technology created a more elaborate effect for the shrinking and enlarging sequences. Designer, Carol Winstead Wood worked on product placement (see below) to increase her budget enabling her to design & build more 'over scale' prop and set elements.
The film was digitally composited on three Apple Mac computers, using After Image and Ultimate software, at Cundey's home before it was sent to the Dream Quest effects company for finessing.
In just about every scene in the kitchen, the Trix cereal box is turned directly towards the camera. Other product logos shown include Lays, Coke, Diet Coke, Tostitos, Skippy Peanut Butter, Street Sharks, Hot Wheels, Sports Illustrated for Kids, the San Francisco 49ers logo, Sony, Osco Drug, Minute Maid, and Honey Nut Cheerios. All of these products are featured throughout the movie, making it one of Disney's few films that encouraged using real-world products and companies.
Production Designer of this project, Carol Winstead Wood worked with the show's property master to find companies that would agree to have their products featured. Typically, "as a film designer, we try to avoid having our films look like a commercial however this script was ideally suited for product placement. My original budget was not over two hundred and fifty thousand. These companies helped to increase the Art Department's budget and gave me the opportunity to 'put more production value' on screen. In Honey We Shrunk Ourselves it was challenging to fabricate realistic 'over scale props' that our characters could interact with. Dean Cundey was a great director to work with, his background as a cinematographer paid off handsomely. The integration of the actors working with 'over scale props' into our computer generated backgrounds made this project one of my most interesting films and a privilege to design."
The film was released direct-to-video on March 18, 1997. It tied neck-and-neck with the video releases of The Long Kiss Goodnight and The First Wives Club.
Unlike the previous films, it received mostly negative reviews from critics. On the film rating website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 25%, based on 8 reviews.