Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

As an artform, silliness has been undervalued. The spectre of anarchy lurks there. It is easy to dismiss Jim Carrey as a fool rather than talk of him in the same breath as Chaplin. Not that Carrey has anything to do with this, although silliness does, which, for those who relish nursery humour, is yummy news.

Live action adaptations of cartoon characters seldom touch the nerve. Either they exaggerate, in which case everyone overacts, or become too literate. David Kellogg, in his big screen debut, has to contend with an effects-ladened storyline, which is almost as tough as doing a talking animal picture.

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The trick is to stay close to the ground in case the elastic snaps. There is only one Terry Gilliam and it's better to acknowledge the fact. Inspector Gadget does not entirely lose sight of its human qualities. Rupert Everett, as the villain Claw, is on loan from Gotham City. His licence to behave with reckless abandon is so much to his taste, he positively glows in the dark. Matthew Broderick is a quieter prospect. Last seen in Election, he tends to play little men who have bigness thrust upon them. As the mild mannered security guard, John Brown, who is given a Six Million Dollar Man makeover ("I guess six million doesn't buy what it used to," quips the police chief), after Claw has blown him up, plays it straight.

Brown's innocence and confusion ("I'm not me anymore, I'm a hardware store") contrasts well with the Hook-like devilment of his arch enemy. Robocop became the perfect killing machine. Inspector Gadget becomes an imperfect idiot. The accessories built into his body would impress 007. It doesn't impress JB. He needs time to understand what they do, while vaguely aware that the feisty scientist's daughter (Joely Fisher) likes him better now that he's a superhero. Well, super-ish.

The film is supremely silly and really quite inventive. The effects are clever and often almost daring. If you have the mind of a seven-year-old and a penchant for helicopter hats, you cannot help but have a good time.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Live action version of the cartoon favourite.
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Director: David Kellogg

Writer: Kerry Ehrin, Zak Penn

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher, Michelle Trachtenberg, Andy Dick

Year: 1999

Runtime: 79 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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