Remakes are often just easy ways to make films. The studios see it as a great way to refresh its intellectual property without re-issuing the original film to theaters. The legal department is happy since there won’t be five different writers claiming their original script was plagiarized. The morons in marketing don’t have to do too much thinking since they know the previous version is a known title so just sell it as a “re-imagining.” They don’t have too much creativity at their core since the producers just want to make money and not kill a possible franchise. Was there a point to Gus Van Sant’s shot by shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? Does anyone scream, “Hey! Norman Bates!” when Vince Vaughn is in an airport? But sometimes you remake a movie to give a twist that speaks to the problems of today. That’s exactly what Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner did when they remade The Incredible Shrinking Man. Thanks to Shout Select’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman: Collector’s Edition you can how a tale of atomic fall out can reflect the fear of 1981 which is also a fear of 2017.
In the original version of the film, a man’s boat drifts into a fog that turns out to be atomic fallout. He ends up shrinking away and fighting cats and spiders before reaching a spiritual awakening. The film was released in 1957 when the Cold War was getting more tense. But would the people of 1981 connect with a tale of the dangers of atomic fallout? Instead of reflecting on nuclear Armageddon, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner took the fear to the supermarket.
Pat Kramer (Tomlin) is a happy mother with a station wagon full of kids and a husband (Midnight Run‘s Charles Grodin) with a good gig in advertising. She does her best to keep a shining house including using so many cleaning products to make her kitchen sparkle. She can’t be that woman on the block. She does feel buried under the modern life that demands people enjoy their cheese out of an aerosol can. Her neighbors keep up their yards with various chemical treatments. Not to mention the exhaust from living in a land where people spend half their lives driving around. It’s all so much. One night she tries an experimental perfume that her husband’s testing for a campaign. The next morning, Pat notices that things are a little loser. She’s not merely losing weight because of her hectic lifestyle. She’s losing inches. Her shrinking get alarming as she reduced down to a child’s size. The medical experts are stumped. She ends up on the Mike Douglas Show to discuss her plight. Will Mike have a solution for Pat to stop shrinking?
Unlike the serious nature of The Incredible Shrinking Man,The Incredible Shrinking Woman is a comedy with Lily Tomlin playing three characters (four if you count the deleted scene). She also brings along Henry Gibson from her time on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. The movie uses humor to question everything we’re exposed thanks to modern chemistry. If you want to see the serious version, watch Todd Haynes’ Safe with Julianne Moore. There is more to the film than just too many chemicals as Pat learns a nefarious truth while stuck in a lab with a smart gorilla (King Kong‘s Rick Baker). The movie was a hit back in the early ’80s, but has become obscured over the decades even though the message is still vital.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer is fine even with the optical effects. The colors have a vibrant feel of that late ’70s and early ’80s colors in the kitchens. The audio is DTS-HD Mono. The levels are fine so that you can tell Lily Tomlin’s different voice for her characters. The movie is subtitled.
A Conversation With Actress Lily Tomlin And Writer/Executive Producer Jane Wagner (26:29) has to two collaborators and spouses discuss how the film went together. Jane regrets taking out the more political moment. They were both kind of not sure why they had Ernestine the telephone operator pop up.
Interview With Director Joel Schumacher (28:17) who graduated from costume designer and screenwriter on Car Wash and The Wiz to direct TV movies and finally theatrical with The Incredible Shrinking Woman. He talks about all the people who gave him a break. He’s so personable that I almost can forgive him for Batman & Robin. He points out that John Landis was the original director until he went off to do Blues Brothers because of budget issues.
Interview With Cinematographer And Visual Effects Supervisor Bruce Logan (23:23) has him recount watching many movies on how to shrink your star. He stuck with oversize sets and processed shots to make Lily shrink. This is a fine talk if you ever want to make your family extra small in home movies.
Interview With Composer Suzanne Ciani (24:53) is an audio interview with the electronic music pioneer. Turns out she was the first woman to score a major studio production. The would be another for over a decade. She would get noticed from working on car ads in tandem with John Barry (James Bond composer). Suzanne was chosen by Lily and Jane.
On Location: Now And Then Featurette (3:06) takes us back to Tasty Meadows. It still looks the same. The shopping center hasn’t changed that much.
“Edith Ann” Deleted Scene (1:04) is Lily’s character on a video monitor in the lab.
Theatrical Trailer (2:30) sets up the science fiction and comedy elements.
Still Gallery (5:13) contains production photos and promotional materials.
Shout! Factory presents The Incredible Shrinking Woman: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Joel Schumacher. Screenplay by: Jane Wagner. Starring: Lily Tomlin, Charles Grodin, Henry Gibson and John Glover. Rated: PG. Running Time: 89 minutes. Released: November 14, 2017.
Joe Corey is the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.