Home > Reviews > HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID – Bruce Broughton

HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID – Bruce Broughton

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is the first sequel to the smash hit 1989 comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Directed by Randal Kleiser and written by Garry Goodrow, Thom Eberhardt, and Peter Elbling, it finds the Szalinski family moved to Nevada where inventor dad Wayne has a new job at a hi-tech company, Sterling Labs, with his wife, two teenage children, and their new baby Adam. One day Wayne takes his kids to his office to see the prototype of his new invention – a derivative of the shrink ray that caused so much havoc in the first film, but which enlarges objects rather than making them smaller. Wayne tests the ray on Adam’s stuffed bunny, but then accidentally zaps Adam too, who immediately starts to grow to enormous proportions. The film again stars Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Amy O’Neill, and Robert Oliveri, plus franchise newcomers Lloyd Bridges, John Shea, and Keri Russell in her screen debut. It’s a fun, visually impressive family comedy, but was nowhere near as much of a hit as its predecessor, and more or less ended the franchise as a viable money-maker.

The score for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is by Bruce Broughton, taking over the reins from James Horner. Much like Horner’s original, Broughton’s score is a frenetic, enthusiastically boisterous symphonic work peppered with moments of raucous jazz and tempered with sweetness and emotion, although interestingly none of the themes that Horner wrote for the original films carry over into the sequel – possibly because of the alleged legal issues Horner ran into as a result of basing two of his themes on pre existing scores without proper attribution (Nino Rota’s Amarcord and Raymond Scott’s Powerhouse).

Broughton’s score is based around three recurring themes, the first being a comedic clomping ‘footstep’ idea for low end woodwinds that likens the gigantic baby Adam to a human Godzilla, stomping around Las Vegas. The second is a sinewy theme for saxophones that often plays in contrapuntal tandem with the first theme, and is a sort of a comedy theme for Wayne, while the third is a wholesome orchestral family theme for the Szalinskis as a whole. Also of note is a jingle-like melody that Broughton uses as a recurring leitmotif for a mysterious ice cream truck that continually appears and disappears, and eventually plays an important role in the film’s finale.

One other interesting thing to note is the way the score is structured. As the album’s liner notes point out, Broughton designed the content of his score to mimic the growth of baby Adam over the course of the film, so that it continually gets bigger and bigger in terms of the size of the orchestra as Adam does the same. It starts reasonably small and almost understated, but by the end it has grown to encompass massive orchestral forces – a clever touch, considering that most scores have an ‘arc’ that peaks in the middle and then ends on a coda, rather than having an exponential increase.

After the madcap “Main Title” introduces the jazzy saxophone theme, quite a bit of the opening sequence of music comprises comedic stylings that take inspiration from the early Disney Merrie Melodies and Warner Brothers Looney Tunes scores by composers like Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley. It’s the type of music that is either deeply impressive or enormously irritating, depending on your point of view. This type of music is tremendously difficult to do well, and even more tricky to perform, but no matter how much technical excellence is involved, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is very much ‘mickey mousing,’ and if that is something that annoys you, then this will do the same.

Personally, I appreciate it enormously when it’s done with this much panache. Statements of the main theme are sprinkled liberally throughout, the brass performances are at times deeply impressive, while the fluttering woodwind textures that dance through much of the score recall some of the best parts of scores like The Boy Who Could Fly. The sentimental family theme is introduced in “To the Lab,” and although it initially has that treacly early 1990s style featuring lush woodwinds and vaguely pop-inflected synth sweeteners, it quickly establishes itself as a warm and wholesome refrain, especially in the subsequent “Sneaking Out”.

Elsewhere, “Adam Gets Zapped” has a little bit of Paul Dukas’s classical masterpiece The Sorcerer’s Apprentice to it. Interestingly, the goofy clarinet-led sequence half way through “Macrowaved” seems to be a variation on the ghost theme from Casper, three years before James Horner wrote it for the film of that name! However, the score begins to change in the aftermath of the chaotic, frenzied “Don’t Touch That Switch!” – 26 seconds of utter orchestral carnage – and from this point until the end the score becomes one enormous action sequence, as the increasingly gargantuan Adam wreaks havoc in downtown Las Vegas while being pursued by his frantic parents, scientists from the lab, and various law enforcement agencies – even though all Adam wants is his stuffed bunny and some ice cream!

“The Bunny Trick” introduces Adam’s ‘footstep’ motif, and offsets it against increasingly large scale jazz statements of the comedy theme. “Get Big Bunny” has a militaristic tone, snare drum riffs and low end piano clusters making the orchestral forces seem more serious and imposing, but then becomes bombastic and almost joyous when the full and lush statements of the main jazz theme emerge. “Clean the Streets” is brilliant, and appears to contain several musical in-jokes, especially when the music adopts some flavors of the Old West. In these moments the music echoes some of Broughton’s writing from scores like Silverado and O Pioneers, while foreshadowing things like Tombstone; listen to the use of xylophones in the percussion section, and the Copland-esque phrasing of the strings. Even when he’s not writing music for westerns, Broughton can’t resist revisiting that classic style.

I have to again make a point about the detail of the orchestrations here; throughout these cues Broughton and his associates David Slonaker and Don Nemitz make use of the entire scope of the ensemble, passing little textural motifs and rhythmic passages around with reckless abandon, but it’s never anything less than crystal clear, and wholly brilliant.

Perhaps the pick of the action cues is the incredible, outrageously complicated “Car Flight,” a masterpiece of speed, accuracy, and thematic density – all the main themes appear in it in one form or another, surrounded by orchestral flourishes and embellishments that border on the ridiculous. The energy levels in this cue are just astonishing; the music just keeps getting faster and faster and more intricate over the course of 4½ minutes, eventually becoming near-impossible to perform. The subsequent “Ice Cream!” features the main performance of the ice cream jingle motif, a sweet circus-like theme that plays like a mock-classical refrain, and which continually emerges from the energetic (and occasionally a little threatening) action rhythms, drawing the now monstrously-sized Adam away from the city with the lure of creamy treats.

“Look at That Mother!” is the score’s exciting finale, and is built around an especially satisfying, sweeping, soaring statement of the family theme that bursts out of the action stylings to accompany the film’s mater ex machina conclusion where Adam is finally rescued by an even scarier sight than him – his 300-foot-tall mom! The conclusive “That’s All Folks!” is a terrific recap of all the score’s major themes performed at the fullest intensity over the end credits; energy levels, creativity, orchestration density, thematic contrapuntal layering, and comedic fun turned up to the max.

The original soundtrack album for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid was released by Intrada Records when the film came out, and ran for a brisk but enjoyable 40 minutes. In 2007 Intrada released an expanded CD featuring several previously unreleased cues, plus additional shorter bits and an alternate End Credits sequence. As a cool overture to the score, the album also premieres the 4-minute original score that Broughton wrote for Off His Rockers, the 1992 cartoon short that appeared in front of the main theatrical feature, and which further revisits his iconic western style from scores like Silverado.

If you can attune yourself to its zany energy and its long detailed sequences of creative mickey-mousing, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is a thoroughly enjoyable score, and is yet another reminder of what a travesty it is that Bruce Broughton’s mainstream film music career never progressed past the year 1998 and Lost in Space – which is still his most recent theatrically released movie. As I write this Broughton is still only 77 – just a few years older than Howard Shore, James Newton Howard, Alan Silvestri, and people of that generation – but apparently only Seth MacFarlane seems to know he exists, having effectively brought him back from the wilderness to write the main theme for the TV series The Orville in 2017. He’s still busy, writing original classical orchestral and chamber music on commission for various bands, but a composer with his talent, his intelligence, his taste, and his dramatic flair, should have remained on the film music A-list for the last 20 years. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is another example of why.

Buy the Honey, I Blew Up the Kid soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • ORIGINAL RELEASE
  • Main Title (3:03)
  • To the Lab (1:53)
  • Adam Gets Zapped (0:53)
  • Putting on Weight? (1:19)
  • Macrowaved (3:15)
  • How’d She Take It? (3:11)
  • Sneaking Out (1:12)
  • Don’t Touch That Switch! (0:26)
  • The Bunny Trick (2:14)
  • Get Big Bunny (4:11)
  • Clean the Streets (3:00)
  • Car Flight (4:38)
  • Ice Cream! (3:47)
  • Look at That Mother! (2:26)
  • That’s All Folks! (4:20)
  • EXPANDED RELEASE
  • Off His Rockers: Music From The Cartoon Short (4:27)
  • Main Title (3:10)
  • Meet The Szalinskis (1:04)
  • Just Like Your Dad (1:36)
  • To The Lab (1:58)
  • Us Guys (1:02)
  • Back To The Lab (1:14)
  • Adam Gets Zapped (0:35)
  • Putting On Weight? (1:24)
  • Macrowaved (3:20)
  • Hi Guys, I’m Home (0:57)
  • How’d She Take It? (3:17)
  • The Playpen (1:10)
  • Sneaking Out (1:17)
  • The Warehouse (2:07)
  • Don’t Touch That Switch! (0:26)
  • He’s Out And He’s Bigger (0:34)
  • The Bunny Trick (2:55)
  • Truck Ride (0:35)
  • Hendrickson Gets Sacked (0:46)
  • Get Big Bunny (4:18)
  • No Naaap (1:47)
  • Clear The Streets! (3:01)
  • Car Flight (4:43)
  • Ice Cream! (3:53)
  • Look At That Mother! (2:30)
  • Diane Decks Hendrickson (0:51)
  • End Credits – That’s All, Folks! (4:25)
  • Mandy? (0:38) BONUS
  • How Was Your Flight? (0:14) BONUS
  • Starting To Get Big (0:17) BONUS
  • Wayne Gets Fired (0:22) BONUS
  • It’s Not A Morphis (0:09) BONUS
  • The Crate (0:15) BONUS
  • He’s Headed For Vegas (0:10) BONUS
  • Adam Catches The Car (0:20) BONUS
  • Can’t We Go Faster? (0:20) BONUS
  • Adam Cries (0:15) BONUS
  • Mandy’s Room (Rock Source #2) (1:36) BONUS
  • T.V. Commercial Source (0:17) BONUS
  • End Credits – That’s All, Folks! (Alternate) (4:44) BONUS

Running Time: 39 minutes 57 seconds – Original Release
Running Time: 69 minutes 34 seconds – Expanded Release

Intrada MAF-730-D (1992) – Original Release
Intrada ISC 385 (1992/2017) – Expanded Release

Music composed and conducted by Bruce Broughton. Orchestrations by David Slonaker and Don Nemitz. Recorded and mixed by Robert Fernandez and Armin Steiner. Edited by Patricia Carlin. Score produced by Bruce Broughton. Expanded album produced by Douglass Fake and Roger Feigelson.

  1. July 8, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve got a film score coming out on July 29th if you’re interested…

    for the new tech-based thriller DARK CLOUD.

    Synth music along the lines of MANHUNTER, TERMINATOR, SUPER METROID, STRANGER THINGS, etc.

    email me if you’d like an early listen before it releases on July 29th.

    EphemerolNightTerrors@gmail.com

    Thanks.

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