A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this 1966 sci-fi adventure is set mostly inside the human body. There is an assassination attempt, a car crash, battle-like sequences, use of "laser" guns, suspenseful brushes with death, and one death. By today's standards the action and violence are pretty tame and not very graphic. Younger kids may be alarmed by encounters with dangerous "blob"-like enemies but the circumstances are so remote as to not be particularly frightening. Importantly, the opposing forces here are antibodies and microbes and the healthful functioning of bodily organs and biological processes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After an attempted assassination by USSR operatives, the only scientist with the technology to successfully "miniaturize" matter is left comatose. The CIA and the Pentagon use the limited technique to save him by repairing his blood clot from within. They shrink a team of doctors and navigators who travel intravenously on a cell-sized submarine to destroy the clot through surgical laser. The catch: they have but one hour to complete the mission and get out before the miniaturization process reverses. If the voyagers and their submarine enlarge, the body's immune system will respond and attack.
Is it any good?
A product of its era, this is a trippy film, with a colorful, psychedelic set design full of blobby globs and jellyfishy molecules. It provides a vivid opportunity for kids to get an up-close and very magnified view of biological processes and get jazzed about physiology and anatomy. While there's the suspense of a ticking clock, and danger around every arterial corner, this movie is still more of a travelogue; a tour of strange and wondrous foreign country.
The idea that this otherworldly world is right under one's skin is indeed mind-blowing, but the excitement of the concept subsides thanks to a fairly shoddy script and no character development. The action is also tame and slowly paced by today's standards, hindered by a long set-up and much discussion about the complex shrinking procedure that's meant for the die-hard sci-fi buff. There's definitely a campiness factor that parents will enjoy, particularly the first screen appearance of Raquel Welch as a science-minded surgeon's assistant in a skin-tight scuba suit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the human body and how it works. Parents can explain the immune system and help kids understand how it protects itself and why a body would attack a foreign substance. Parents can guide their kids as the film follows the submarine's path through the veinal system and discuss the functions of each organ and why the heart, the lungs, and the ear all pose risk for these microscopic voyagers. Families can also discuss how scientific breakthroughs can help repair bodies save people. What might scientists invent in the future to cure people?