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HELP, I SHRUNK MY TEACHER

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by Sven Unterwaldt Jr.

grade: 6

Help, I shrunk my Teacher is a film of international scope that is clearly inspired by contemporary US entertainment cinema and also aims very much at an extensive distribution abroad. Yet, despite this, we cannot fail to notice an almost television-like approach that, together with sometimes excessively contrived special effects, makes the whole thing easily forgettable.

A new adventure

In recent years, the saga that began in 2015 with the feature film Help, I shrunk my Teacher, directed in 2015 by Sven Unterwaldt Jr. and based on the novel of the same name by Sabine Ludwig, has enjoyed great success. Yes, because, in fact, the story of nice Felix (played by Oskar Keymer), who, having just moved with his family to a small town in Germany, begins a new course of study in a school full of surprises, immediately appealed to younger audiences. Already three years later, was released a sequel to the film (Help, I shrunk my Parents, directed by Tim Trageser) and in 2021, Help, I shrunk my Friends, directed by Granz Henman, the third chapter of the saga, arrived in theatres.

In Help, I shrunk my Teacher, we meet young Felix for the first time. The boy is eleven years old and together with his father (Axel Stein) goes to enrol at a prestigious school founded in his time by Otto Leonard (Otto Waalkes), whose ghost is said to still roam the classrooms. Felix has to meet the strict headmistress Schmitt-Gössenwein (Anja Kling), who at first is reluctant to admit him to the school, but then starts to collaborate with him, after being shrunk by Leonard’s ghost following a spell, in order to prevent the school from closing.

What Sven Unterwaldt Jr. (and Sabine Ludwig before him) wanted to stage is first and foremost the not always easy relationship between students and teachers and – more generally – between adults and children. Particularly noteworthy, in fact, is the progressive change of both the headmistress (actually much more sensitive and vulnerable than she may initially seem) and Felix, who will finally realise that even the strictest of adults has his own weaknesses.

Alongside an overall well-written script, however, we cannot fail to notice in Help, I shrunk my Teacher obvious similarities with what has already been made in the past and, in particular, with the now cult film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Joe Johnston, 1989). The famous American comedy undoubtedly begins with quite different situations. Yet, many ideas are similar. And not only with regard to the unexpected shrinkage of some characters, but also with regard to the eternal conflict between adults and children.

Help, I shrunk my Teacher – as well as the other two feature films of the saga – is clearly a film of international scope that is clearly inspired by contemporary US entertainment cinema and also aims very much at copious distribution abroad. Yet, despite this, we cannot fail to notice an almost television-like approach that, together with sometimes excessively contrived special effects, makes the feature film dangerously forgettable. Despite a certain success with the public following its theatrical release. How long, then, will we still remember the adventures of Felix and his group of friends? Only time will tell.

Original title: HIlfe, ich hab meine Lehrerin geschrumpft
Directed by: Sven Unterwaldt Jr.
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 2015
Running time: 90’
Genre: adventure, comedy, fantasy, family
Cast: Oskar Keymer, Anja Kling, Axel Stein, Justus von Dohnányi, Lina Hüesker, Georg Sulzer, Maximilian Ehrenreich, Eloi Christ, Johannes Zeiler, Michael Ostrowski, Daniela Preuß, Otto Waalkes, Alexandra Helmig, Sabine Ludwig, Annika Becker, Marie Becker, Christa Schreiber, Siegfried Foster
Screenplay: Sabine Ludwig, Gerrit Hermans, Silja Clemens, Florian Schumacher
Cinematography: Stephan Schuh
Produced by: Blue Eyes Fiction, Karibufilm, Minifilm

Info: the page of Help, I shrunk my Teacher on iMDb