THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN -- Flower Twin, K-B Studio, NTI Buckingham, Roth's Parkway, Roth's Quince Orchard, Roth's Tysons Corner, Showcase Fair City, Riverdale Plaza, Showcase Oxon Hill, Springfield Mall Cinema, West End Circle and Wheaton Plaza.
"The Incredible Shrinking Woman" is a "little" movie in more ways one. Lily Tomlin, as a mysteriously shrinking California housewife named Pat Kramer, does indeed become very small. Sometimes this is funny; some of the jokes hit home. Just don't expect too much. And definitely don't expect anything that even remotely approaches the inventiveness of "The Incredible Shrinking Man," Jack Arnold's 1957 science-fiction classic. "Shrinking Woman" is comedy, at a very broad level. s
Director Joel Schumacher takes the "Laugh-In" idea of building a giant rocking chair for Tomlin's Edith Ann character and goes one step further: they've built a whole set of props to accommodate her shrunken, six-inch self. Tomlin, parodying the perfect suburban housewife, gets small from using too many nasty chemical products. And that's the problem. The movie gets bogged down in its anti-technology message, which isn't terribly original. How clever is it to attack polyester?
Chemicals and corporations and station wagons, television and politicians and Pop Tarts -- these and other trendy targets come in for their share of the all-too-obvious lumps.
Living in her tacky split-level house in the Tasty Meadows subdivision, surrounded by The Magic of Technology (Breathe East spray, No Sweat deodorant, Galaxy Glue), Pat Kramer is the model suburban housewife. "Thank heaven for polyester," she sighs, wiping up a wine spill. Her husband Vance (Charles Grodin, resplendent in an aqua doubleknit three-piece suit) is in advertising, selling the products that dominate their lives. "Oh look, honey, here's your commercial," Pat beams as they all watch TV around the dinner table.
Anyway, Tomlin, breathing in these chemicals day after day, shrinks down to a perfect size six -- inches, that is -- and ends up living in her daughter's dollhouse. She gets captured by some bad guys who want to shrink everybody, and the rest is strictly sitcom city. In the end there is some blather about "little guys" being able to "bring people together" and accomplish things when "big political powers" fail.
Most of the jokes are on the level of Grodin's calling her "the little woman," or Mike Douglas' singing "Little Things Mean a Lot." Still, "Shrinking Woman" has its moments. As the family gains in notoriety, the transformation of the Kramers' demure housemaid Concepcion into a media-wise, finger-popping sexpot is hilarious. Some of the special effects work well, too, as when Tomlin falls into her garbage disposal and flounders around amid dinosaur-size eggshells.
Despite its faults, "Shrinking Woman" should be considered a must for diehard Tomlin fans: In addition to her starring role she's got three bit parts. In fact, one of the best parts in the movie is the fleeting cameo appearance of Ernestine, the obnoxious telephone operator character she created 10 years ago on "Laugh-In."