In the new Marvel superhero fantasy “Ant-Man,” Paul Rudd plays a man who shrinks to insect size and battles evildoers with the help of his ant army.
But this isn’t the first time Hollywood has made a star tiny for the big screen.
There’s a long history of shrinking people in film; it’s a popular motif in sci-fi, used for both scary and humorous effects.
Here are some of the movies where size really does matter.
“Tom Thumb” (1958)
In this fairy tale turned live-action movie, Russ Tamblyn (better known as Riff from the 1961 “West Side Story” musical) shrunk for the tiny role of Tom Thumb. But while Tom’s stature may have been short, his character was large, and the little fellow spent most of the movie singing and getting into trouble with movie villains Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers. A giant set of tiny-made props was constructed for “Tom Thumb,” but perhaps the most memorable moment was the army of dancing toys (actors in elaborate costumes) that sprang to life whenever Tom Thumb appeared.
“The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957)
Adapted by Richard Matheson from his novel “The Shrinking Man” and directed by Jack Arnold, the film follows the life and misfortunes of businessman Scott Carey (Grant Williams), who is steadily decreasing in size after being exposed to a radioactive cloud. As his body gets smaller, his problems (and the world) get bigger.
“Fantastic Voyage” (1966)
This film based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby features a scientist who is attacked and nearly killed after creating a device that can shrink matter. Thanks to the recently developed technology, a team of medical experts can get small enough to enter the scientist’s bloodstream and repair his damaged brain. However, time is limited: They have only an hour before they return to their original size.
“The Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1981)
In this offshoot of “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” suburban housewife Pat Kramer (Lily Tomlin) faces a fate similar to Scott Carey’s when she samples perfume from her husband’s advertising company that causes her to shrink. She eventually becomes so small that her family assumes she is dead. To their surprise, Pat is alive and returns to her regular size after falling into a puddle of household cleaners.
In this sci-fi comedy inspired by “Fantastic Voyage,” a naval aviator (Dennis Quaid) volunteers for a laboratory experiment that involves shrinking its test subjects. Things take a turn for the worse — don’t they always? — when a rival lab hijacks the experiment. In the midst of the takeover, Quaid’s character and his miniaturized space pod are injected into the body of a hypochondriac grocery clerk played by Martin Short. The resulting microscopic battle is played for both laughs and thrills.
Tim Burton’s horror-comedy classic stars Michael Keaton as the resident ghost-with-the-most, Betelgeuse, who takes up residence inside a model-town constructed inside the home of two recently dead ghosts. When his name is uttered three times, the speaker is transferred into that very model, an elaborate set made to look like a tiny model of a real-life town. It was all very meta and crazy, especially when Betlegeuse had to be dug up in the tiny cemetery through giant AstroTurf and cardboard shavings.
“Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” (1989)
A family favorite that spawned two sequels, a TV series and an interactive 3D movie, “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” stars Rick Moranis as Wayne Szalinski, a bumbling scientist whose shrink-ray accidentally zaps his and his neighbors’ kids. Ignorant of the children’s fate and frustrated with his unreliable invention, Szalinski nearly destroys the contraption, while the youngsters face down giant bugs and other threats in their own backyard. And then the epic journey across the backyard begins, fighting massive scorpions, feasting on sky-high cookies with mountains of cream and training their own ant companion.
“Alice in Wonderland” (2010)
This version wasn’t the first “Alice in Wonderland” movie to shrink its main fantasy character Alice, and certainly not the last. In the Tim Burton computer-generated world, Alice (played by Mia Wasikowska) rockets up and down and all over the place. This fantasy makes good use of the “drink me” potion and “eat me” cake as the character shoots up and plummets down in size.