“To my family, I’d become a doll — and to our dog, a chew-stick.”
After exposure to a multitude of household chemicals, a housewife (Lily Tomlin) begins shrinking, much to the horror of her husband (Charles Grodin) and two kids (Shelby Balik and Justin Dana). Meanwhile, her husband’s boss (Ned Beatty) conspires with her doctors (Henry Gibson and Elizabeth Wilson) and the leaders (Tom Keller, Jim McMullan, and Pamela Bellwood) of a secret organization to capture Tomlin and use her blood as part of a plan for world domination.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Lily Tomlin Films
- Living Nightmare
- Ned Beatty Films
- Science Fiction
- World Domination
Joel Schumacher made his directorial debut helming this reasonably entertaining — though clearly inferior — comedic follow-up to the 1957 sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) (based on Richard Matheson’s novel The Shrinking Man). In this modernized version of Matheson’s story (scripted by Tomlin’s long-time collaborator and parter, Jane Wagner), the protagonist is a woman instead of a man, and the proposed culprit for her situation — a deluge of household chemicals:
— plays upon newfound societal fears about environmental contaminants. Unfortunately, Tomlin is a bit too bland in the title role as a happily married housewife faced with the ultimate nightmare:
(though she has fun in a secondary role playing a helpful neighbor named Judith Beasley), and the screenplay misses out on ripe opportunities for more incisive social commentary — either about the contested role of housewives in a male-dominated society, or the escalating presence of unknown chemicals in our everyday lives. Sadly, the film eventually devolves into a silly world-domination subplot involving — sigh — a captive humanoid gorilla (famed makeup artist Rick Baker in a suit), rather than allowing Tomlin’s character to sink ever further into the horrors of increasing diminution (as is handled so effectively in the original film). However, while The Incredible Shrinking Woman is certainly no classic, the special effects are nicely handled, and it’s enjoyably loopy enough to merit a look by curious film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Lily Tomlin as Judith Beasley
- Impressive special effects and sets
No, though film fanatics may be curious to check it out given its connection to Jack Arnold’s 1957 classic (and Matheson’s novel).