When Lt Tuck Pendleton (Quaid) is shrunk inside his craft to microscopic size as part of an experiment, he doesn't count the lab being burgled, or on being accidentally injected into hapless, hypochondriac supermarket employee Jack Putter (Short). Now to save Tuck's life, Jack must get back the missing parts of the equipment and fend of the bad guys...
A rich, sugary pudding made up of familiar ingredients: the miniaturisation concept of Fantastic Voyage, the herky-jerky slapstick of All Of Me, the easy-grin of Dennis Quaid coupled with the kooky charm of Meg Ryan. It’s about as broad beamed a movie as you can get, but that’s not necessarily to its detriment. Once you get over its brazen marketability, there’s a bright pastiche of entertaining impulses going on here: light sci-fi, silly comedy, the pop and crackle of a mid-order thriller.
Away from the juicy special effects used to portray Martin Short’s inner workings (which, strangely, while likely far more accurate, lack the day-glo pop glitz of the Fantastic Voyage’s 60s variation of the theme) the film genuinely works as a raucous comedy. Joe Dante realising you could never truly take shrinking seriously as a sci-fi proposition, allows it to relax into a frothy comedy, and Martin Short, with his array of twitchy tic and hoots, splendidly keeps stupidity front and centre. The idea of Quaid’s ship connecting with its host’s cerebral cortex to allow communication, fuels a hilarious rush of possession gags. Both his fraught neurotic putz and Quaid’s washed up cowboy, ripe with the star’s infectious self-possession, are stereotypes on order, but the film’s whole lack of ambition has been turned to its own good.
Dante’s film doesn’t outstay its welcome, never overreaches its high concept nor forces us to dally in sentiment or any kind of genuine emotion. It’s flat-packed Hollywood, but once upright surely stays that way.
It doesn't have the dark edge of Joe Dante's other works, but brilliant performances by Martin Short and Meg Ryan make it a joy from start to finish.