Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
This zany movie is yet another remake of a former TV show (cartoon series). Those who watch it will either love it or hate it. Few, if any, will be middle of the road. I found it delightfully charming! The main ingredient for me was that it retained many of the features that my daughter loved so much as a child. Even though she’s 22, I still want to take her to see this movie. I know she will enjoy it, too.
All the characters that she grew up with are there. The buffoonery, the off-the-wall humor, the clumsiness of our hero and the you-gotta-like him attitude still prevails. The only real changes that were made are: 1. We now see Dr. Claw’s face, 2. Dr. Claw is wearing a metallic claw, instead of his steel glove and 3. Penny does not show her keen ability to pull Inspector Gadget out of his “new” dilemmas.
In the theater that I attended, the children were laughing and having a good time. Afterwards, you could hear them singing the tune and bouncing up and down at the sound “Hoo-Hoo”. —Go see the show, you’ll know what I’m talking about—
One of the benefits of “Inspector Gadget”, the movie, is that we learn how Inspector Gadget, the man (a.k.a. John Brown [Matthew Broderick, “Addicted to Love”, “Godzilla”]) was transformed from a security guard into the clumsy, semi-robotic cop that we’ve all come to love and enjoy. We also learn the reason for Dr. Claw’s metallic hand (or claw, as the case may be).
For those who may not have seen the Inspector Gadget cartoon series, let me give you a brief rundown of the movie’s plot. John Brown, while on assignment (as a security guard) to the Bradford Robotics Laboratory, attempts to rescue materials that were stolen from the lab. Hot on the trail of the culprit, the evil billionaire Sanford Scolex (Rupert Everett, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”), John foolishly tries to pull over the suspect and winds up losing control of his car. Scolex, seizing the opportunity, blows up our hero’s car (leaving him for dead). Brenda (Joely Fisher, “The Mask”), the daughter of a brilliant scientist, Artemus Bradford (Rene Auberjonois), utilizes the work of her father and reconstructs John into the half-man/half-robot that we know as Inspector Gadget.
Immediately, Riverton’s mayor (Cheri Oteri, “Liar, Liar”) announces to the city that Inspector Gadget had been inducted to the police force. While, Chief Quimby (Dabney Coleman, “You’ve Got Mail”, does all he can to humiliate this new rookie. Meanwhile, John teams up with his new partner, the highly, technologically advanced super-car (a 1963 Lincoln convertible that performs like the KITT car of Knight Rider [TV]; but acts and sounds like a street rapping, blues singing, hip-hop car of the 90's—which, by the way is the voice of D.H. Hughley).
The fun is in watching Inspector Gadget learn how to use his new powers and abilities. Of course, in the movie version, they’ve added a new twist. The villain creates a duplicate Inspector Gadget who terrorizes the city and forces the real Inspector Gadget to clear his good name.
While the movie is good fun and a show for the family, there are some scenes that you should be aware of. In one scene, Inspector Gadget is learning how to utilize his arm to its fullest. While trying to reach the two balls, which are sitting on the floor, he inadvertently grabs a guru in the crotch, who then talks in a high-pitched tone and later is seen with a bag of ice on his crotch. In another scene, we find the good inspector with his pants down (in his underwear). While I thought it was a bit overdone, it is nothing more than one would see on TV. And finally, Penny (Michelle Trachtenberg, “Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish”), Inspector Gadget’s niece, finds the inspector’s body lying on a trash heap, as if dead. Most children will not find this frightening or appalling; but younger one’s may have a hard time with it. You decide!
Year of Release—1999