HELP, I SHRUNK MY FRIENDS

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by Granz Henman

grade: 5

Help, I Shrunk My Friends is clearly inspired by the now cult film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. But if those nostalgic for that film – as well as for the glorious 1980s – are hoping to re-experience the same feelings they felt when watching Joe Johnston’s film, their expectations will inevitably be disappointed.

The comeback of Felix

Felix (played by Oskar Keymer) is a teenager who spends his days carefree with his friends at the Otto-Leonhard-Gymnasium. Everything is apparently normal, isn’t it? Yet, inside the school, Otto Leonhard’s ghost still makes itself felt and is even able to wield various magical powers, including that of shrinking people. Young Felix, who can communicate with Leonhard without any problems, knows something about this. And since his adventures have amused young and adults alike thanks to the feature films Help, I shrunk my Teacher (Sven Unterwaldt Jr., 2015) and Help, I shrunk my Parents (Tim Trageser, 2018), the theatrical release of the final chapter of the trilogy, namely Help, I shrunk my Friends, directed by Granz Herman in 2021, has been eagerly awaited.

Once again, then, we see young Felix grappling with the many incidents that such powers can cause. Here, however, things change. After the arrival at school of mysterious and charming Melanie (Lorna Zu Solms), in fact, Felix inevitably loses his mind. Yet, during a school trip, mysterious thefts occur. Melanie herself is accused of them. How are things in reality?

Help, I Shrunk My Friends – just like the other two films in the trilogy – is clearly inspired by the now cult film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (directed by Joe Johnston in 1989). But if those nostalgic for that film – as well as for the glorious 1980s – are hoping to re-experience the same feelings they felt when watching Johnston’s film, their expectations will inevitably be disappointed. This feature film by Granz Henman – as well as the two previous films – is mainly aimed at a very, very young audience and, alongside a screenplay that is at times excessively predictable, relies entirely on fake special effects, unbelievable antagonists, clumsily shot fourth-wall breakthroughs and a humour that is, unfortunately, neither original nor impressive.

Undoubtedly interesting are the teenage stories, where alongside first loves, there are lifelong friendships that, despite adversity, remain stronger than ever. And in Help, I Shrunk My Friends this is perhaps the only element that works. Will it ever be enough to make an entire feature film truly successful? Unfortunately not. Granz Henman, for his part, follows a script and rules that are already predetermined. Yet, despite everything, he seems rather clumsy in directing his camera: over-the-top characters are portrayed awkwardly and clumsily, with unconvincing shots and camera movements. One even gets the impression that the entire film lives off the success of the previous works. Will it manage to impress its young viewers this time as well? In spite of everything, that is what we hope. But sometimes, unfortunately, not even a cameo by the great Maria Hofstätter can improve the situation.

Original title: Hilfe, ich hab meine Freunde geschrumpft
Directed by: Granz Henman
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 2021
Running time: 97’
Genre: adventure, comedy, fantasy, family
Cast: Eloi Christ, Julia Hartmann, Cosima Henman, Lina Hüesker, Oskar Keymer, Anja Kling, Michael Ostrowski, Andrea Sawatzki, Tobias Schäfer, Lorna zu Solms, Axel Stein, Georg Sulzer, Otto Waalkes, Johannes Zeiler, Maria Hofstätter
Screenplay: Gerrit Hermans
Cinematography: Marcus Kanter
Produced by: MINI FILM ProKids-Kulturverein Filmproduktions KG, Blue Eyes Fiction, Potemkino Port

Info: the page of Help, I shrunk my Friends on iMDb; the page of Help, I shrunk my Friends on the website of the