The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

IncredibleShrinkingManPosterIt all starts like something out of the hit TV show, TV’s Bloopers and Atomic Practical Jokes: Scott has taken his brother’s boat out for a cruise with his wife. What he doesn’t know though is that while she’s below deck to get more brew, we’ve gone ahead and detonated an atomic weapon just off the starboard side of Scott’s boat. Any minute now, Scott and his boat will float right through the mysterious haze and we bet he’ll be dumb enough to stand around gawking. Let’s see what happens!

Sure enough, Scott hangs around topside and soaks up all the rich, shiny, sparkly radioactivity. Six months go by and we’re back home with the Careys and Scott is concerned because his pants don’t fit like they used to and his shirts are too big. Scott goes to his doctor to find out what the problem is.

The doctor attributes all his weight loss to stress, though Carey says he hasn’t been stressing about anything other than his weight loss. Then the horror begins!

The doctor also informs him that he is about five feet nine inches tall! Like most really short and insecure guys, Scott insists that he has always been a strapping and manly six foot one, not a paltry and sissy five foot nine!

As Scott grows smaller, his attitude goes straight into the crapper. He also loses his job since no one wants to do business with a guy they might accidentally step on. Of course, today, his employer would have to make accommodations like having an itty bitty desk and wee little laptop computer for him or he would be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. So you can see that while in today’s world an Incredible Shrinking Man would be protected, back in the good old days when women still put on the pearls to vacuum the living room, he was screwed.

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Scott is feeling about three feet high (because he is!) and since he lost his job, he had to sell his story to the media and he then gets hounded by them since the entire world knows about his plight. The movie is surprisingly current in its portrayal of the feeding frenzy that results when he goes public with his story.

Scott gets fed up with it all and decides to go out and get some air. What follows is the hokiest part of the movie. He goes down the street and runs smack dab into a carnival, complete with bearded lady, fat chick, and midgets!

He can’t take it so he goes to the local cafe and sits down at a really big table in front of a really big coffee cup. While he’s nursing his cup of joe, who should walk in but this midget chick named Clarice.

This is really lame because it’s obvious that she isn’t a midget, but just a regular woman sitting at a big table with Scott. They should have gotten a real dwarf or orc or to play this part.

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It really reeks when they’re both sitting on an over-sized park bench and she’s trying to give him a pep talk about how great it is to be short. (When you trip, you don’t have as far to fall so you don’t get hurt as much!)

Scott continues to shrink and eventually is about two inches high. You can also see that his marriage has suffered since he has moved out of their house and into a doll house in the living room! I hope it was at least a Barbie Dreamhouse!

The remainder of the film focuses on Scott’s efforts to stay alive and somehow get back to his wife. This involves outsmarting a cat, a mousetrap, using nails as swords as well as a private little war between Scott and a tarantula with the stakes being life and death (and a moldy piece of bread).

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The ending is surprising for these kind of movies and I’m not sure if I understood what happened since my grasp of the metaphysical comes solely from watching Billy Jack. Still, it was a good change of pace from most of the sci-fi flicks of the era.

A very satisfying experience that doesn’t really lay on the whole “atomic radiation is bad” angle like a lot of these movies. There weren’t any stilted scenes where characters bemoan how man has tampered with some law of nature and that there are things man isn’t meant to know. Scott just gets smaller and smaller and he does what he can to survive.

Grant Williams does a nice job portraying Scott’s shift from having a normal life to desperation and finally acceptance of his fate in a believable and moving manner. Throw in the good effects, the fun scenes with him battling everyday creatures with oversized props, and you have a film that entertains from start to finish.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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