The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
The Incredible Shrinking Woman Movie Poster Image
Excruciatingly bad Lily Tomlin comedy.
  • PG
  • 1981
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A tiny woman falls in a garbage disposal, is nearly ground to death.


Allusions to the sexual frustrations of being married to a tiny woman.


One or two moderate curses. A cereal box's ingredients, read aloud, include "synthetic spermatozoa" and "bull scrotum."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids will hear allusions to the sexual frustrations of being married to a tiny woman. There are one or two moderate curses and some potty-mouth talk: A cereal box's ingredients, read aloud, include "synthetic spermatozoa" and "bull scrotum." The shrinking woman is in perpetual danger of being squashed or worse. She falls in a garbage disposal and is nearly ground to death.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bypercys mom March 13, 2010

Nothing but a silly movie

It is an old comedy. Set your expectations at crude slapstick. It is just silly funny, nothing more, nothing less.
Kids think it is silly. There isn't a... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Perfume, glue, cleansers, aerosol-propelled cheese -- so much chemical exposure takes its toll on unassuming housewife Pat Kramer (Lily Tomlin), who begins to shrink. She suspects her condition might have something to do with the products her ad exec husband (Charles Grodin) brings home but is too demure to speak out about it, even when her dwindling size makes her a world-renowned celebrity and provides her with a (very small) soap box to stand on. But sleeping in a dollhouse and the ever-present danger of being squished are only the start of Pat's problems. She's been targeted by the insidious Organization for World Management, which wants to make a serum from her blood that, when added to worldwide water supplies, will shrink all but a select few down to subservient proportions.

Is it any good?

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN is so awful in so many ways; for starters, there's Jane Wagner's witless script. It uses elements from the sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man to say something about the plight of the suburban American housewife, the responsibility of chemical manufacturers, and the moral character of the advertising industry. But the story only begins to articulate these points before abandoning them for a fake-looking ape and yelling people slipping on banana peels. The plot generates a few madcap laughs but in general it fails to be funny or compelling. Frequent references to a married couple's sex woes are in poor taste.

Lily Tomlin and Charles Grodin never looked more bored in their lives, and the special effects are cheap and completely unconvincing. For family appeal there are a couple of loud, obnoxious kids, and some cutesy stuff with the shrinking woman living in a dollhouse and wearing doll clothes. But if this is a movie for kids, what's with the repeated allusions to the couple's unhappy sex life? What about the gratuitous reading of a cereal box's ingredients, which include "synthetic spermatozoa" and "bull scrotum"?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this movie's message. Do many comedies have messages? What, if anything, do you think was the filmmaker's point?

Movie details

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