Thursday, May 16, 2013

MR Inspector Gadget

Wowser! Part man. Part machine. All cop.

Go-Go-Gadget-O-future of law enforcement!

Movie: Inspector Gadget 
Directed by David Kellogg
Release date 1999
Genre Live action comedy
Country USA

Surely everyone's heard of Inspector Gadget at least once? Right?

But it isn't the case, to quickly summarize it, Inspector Gadget is a cult little cartoon series created by Jean Chalopin for DIC Entertainment in the 1980s.

It's a Franco-Canadian-US collaboration. It was partially animated in France and Japan. It ran from 1983 to 1986 for only two very long seasons.

It became hugely popular in American and Europe. Many spinoffs and animated films followed over the years, such as Gadget Boy & Heather or Gadget and the Gadgetinis, as well as a videogame, a comic book series and countless merchandising.

The original series was about this clueless robot policeman with endless gadgets hidden in his mechanic body - hence the Go-Go-Gadget to summon the items. He was partially inspired by  Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther.

A typical episode would usually consist of Gadget getting a mission from Chief Quimby who would then explode one way or another, then Gadget's niece Penny and her dog Brain would do most of the hard work. Gadget would get the praise for putting a stop to M.A.D and then the villain Dr. Claw would run away. The episodes would usually finally end with a PSA (public service announcement) for the kids watching the series.

Surely, it wouldn't be that complicated to turn it into a kid's movie?

At least that's what Walt Disney Pictures thought when they acquired the rights from DIC.

The film doesn't really follow much the cartoon series. Rather, in typical Hollywood fashion, tries to give us an origin story.

The story follows John Brown (I don't remember Gadget ever going by that name in the show??).

John is a wannabe cop who's just a security guard for now. He works for a laboratory run by Dr. Brenda Bradford and her father.

One faithful night John Brown's entire body is blown up in a car explosion while trying to prevent a robbery. The ruthless Sanford Scolex kills Brenda's father and steal some tech... but not before having his own hand crushed by a bowling ball!

Scolex gets a mechanical claw for a hand (with interchangeable accessories) and becomes Doctor Claw.

While Brown gets turned into a machine with Bradford's experimental technology. Part Machine, part cop. So he can become Robocop errr.. Inspector Gadget!

Granted, it doesn't follow much the original Inspector Gadget series... or any incarnation of Inspector Gadget for that matter. The film tries to give him an origin story. While it's nice to tie Inspector Gadget and Claw's origins, the rest is the were the problem lies in this film...

The biggest change is with Claw. He goes from a never seen angry supervillain to a stereotypical corporate cliché Bond villain. And having his face totally visible the whole time or at least his true identity not a secret is a very bad move in my eyes.

The film tries to change most details and does its own thing... Which in a much better movie could be good, but here it just ends up really far from its original source material.

Most changes are just aesthetic and fairly standard for a Hollywood production. I mean Penny's not blonde, she doesn't have a computer/book, Brain is just a normal dog. But some changes are kinda questionable. The Gadgetmobile is still present, but it doesn't transform into a minivan or anything really. But it has a super-turbo and is voiced by  D.L. Hughley?

Originally, Steven Spielberg was very interested in producing an Inspector Gadget movie but Disney got the rights to do so instead of Amblin. His original choice for the role was either Chevy Chase or Steve Martin with Tim Curry as Dr. Claw. Now that's a movie I'd like to see.

Instead we got David Kellogg who previous works counts several commercials and the dreadfull Vanilla Ice movie Cool as Ice...

This live action Disney film stars Matthew Broderick in the titular role. Personally I like his Gadget, it came out good enough. Even though he mostly plays "himself" as he did in Godzilla and countless other blockbusters. He doesn't try to imitate Gadget's voice or mannerism.

The role was originally meant for Brendan Fraser... who went on doing George of the Jungle instead, another cartoon-to-film adaptation. 

Rupert Everett plays the villaneous Doctor Claw/Sanford Scolex. He's usually a great actor but he looked and acted here like he was just in here for the paycheck (hey, it's a Disney flick!). A young Michelle Trachtenberg (EuroTrip) plays Penny, who's mostly a background character here instead of the usual actual detective of the story. Joely Fisher is Gadget's love interest Brenda Bradford.. and that's mostly what her role is, the love interest of the main character.

It's a very cheesy typical romance story. Was it necessary for the plot? Absolutely not.

The film does have some genuine funny little moments. The characters break the fourth wall here and there (I loved the Saturday morning cartoon nod Claw made).

The robo-duplicate is a great idea, I loved this Evil Gadget's creepy fake plastic smile. It's only sad his wrecking havoc didn't lead nowhere and the final confrontation was such a letdown. Though we could have done without the RoboBrenda...

There's some random cameos and references, such as Andy Dick in this film. Playing a character named Kramer with the same ridiculous hairdo as the Seinfeld character... Really??

And even Don Adams (the original Inspector Gadget voice) returned to do Brain's voice for a little line at the end!

But everything else in this motion picture is so wrong. Awful sound effects. Barely a plot. Nothing makes sense past the origin. Cheesy acting. And it just plain bad.

Overall, a passable movie adaptation that gets kinda long by the end and that is just plain bad.

I mean, I can see this film being a guilty pleasure for some, but even by children movie's standard, this very engaging for the audience. It's almost insulting.

It strips Inspector Gadget of all the interesting and funny parts to only leave a generic live Disney film. One that just doesn't care about it's original material or making a good product.

You go from an original character like the original Inspector Gadget with his thousands gadgets, his gadget car and smart niece that resolves the crimes for him against a super criminal organization to.. a silly goofy romance between a shy security guard turned robot and his creator. Oh, and a business man wants to take over the city for some reason.

Either make it more realistic (which I'd hate) or embrace the original cartoony concept. This feels like such a cop out...

If Popeye was a live action cartoon done right, this is a bland generic attempt..

The film is really at its best when it feels like a twisted parody of RoboCop for children, I kinda wish I had taken that route for the entire film not just the beginning. It even follows some similar plots (the evil doppelgänger, etc.).

The film was a modest success and gathered mostly negative reception. So naturally, it had a direct-to-video sequel released in 2003. Matthew Broderick who was the only good thing of the original film was obviously replaced by someone else, French Stewart.

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Urkels!

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