Inspector Gadget (film)
|File:Inspector gadget ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Kellogg|
|Based on||Inspector Gadget
by Andy Heyward
|Music by||John Debney|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$134.4 million|
Inspector Gadget is a 1999 action-comedy film loosely based on the 1983 animated cartoon series of the same name. It starred Matthew Broderick as the title character, along with Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw, Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny, and Dabney Coleman as Chief Quimby. Three new characters were introduced, Dr. Brenda Bradford (played by Joely Fisher), Mayor Wilson (played by Cheri Oteri) and the Gadgetmobile (voiced by D. L. Hughley). The film tells the story of how Inspector Gadget and Dr. Claw came to be in the cartoon.
The film was produced by Caravan Pictures and DIC Entertainment (which was owned by The Walt Disney Company at the time of production) and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Los Angeles, California, with the ice castle-like main tower of Pittsburgh's PPG Place playing a central role. This was the last film produced by Caravan Pictures before it was absorbed into Spyglass Entertainment. This film was dedicated to the memory of production designer Michael White who died on January 19, 1999 in Los Angeles during production of the film at the age of 36. The film was followed by the 2003 direct-to-video stand-alone sequel Inspector Gadget 2.
John Brown is a humble, but clumsy security guard working at the Bradford robotics laboratory in Riverton, Ohio, run by Artemus Bradford and his daughter Brenda, whom Brown has a crush on. Brown wishes to become a police officer, with support from his niece Penny. Brenda and Artemus create a lifelike robotic foot as part of the Gadget Program, to create cybernetically augmented police officers. Tycoon Sanford Scolex attacks the lab, steals the foot, and has Artemus murdered before escaping in his limo. Brown chases him down in his car, which leads to it being destroyed by Scolex's explosive cigar, leaving Brown for dead, but a bowling ball coming from the fiery blast of Brown’s destroyed car crushes Scolex's hand, forcing him to replace it with a mechanical claw.
Brown survives the explosion and becomes the first test subject for the Gadget Program, as a cyborg with countless gadgets he can activate by saying "Go, Go, Gadget". Under Brenda’s guidance, Brown becomes Inspector Gadget. Scolex creates the alias "Dr. Claw" and uses the stolen technology to create his own robot for global domination, aided by his minions Kramer and Sykes, but the attempts fail. Much to the irritation of Chief Quimby, Gadget joins the police department, aided by his talking advanced car, the Gadgetmobile. However, Quimby refuses to give Gadget the Bradford case and instead assigns him to mediocre jobs, prompting Gadget to secretly investigate the case himself. Examining the evidence, he finds a connection to Scolex’s company, which Brenda has now gone to work for. Breaking into Scolex's lab, he locates the foot but is taken captive by Scolex, who discovers Gadget is powered by a processor chip, which Scolex removes, and has Sykes dump Gadget in a junkyard. Scolex unleashes Robo-Gadget, an evil replica of Gadget, who goes on a rampage across Riverton. Brenda, Penny, her dog Brain, and the Gadgetmobile track Gadget to the junkyard but find he is unresponsive. Penny believes her uncle doesn’t need the chip to live, which is proven when Brenda kisses Gadget, reactivating him.
After dropping Penny and Brain off at home, Gadget, Brenda and the Gadgetmobile give chase to Scolex's limo. Gadget and Robo-Gadget battle on top of the roof but are knocked off, continuing their fight on a bridge until Gadget pulls a cord on his counterpart’s head, causing it to fall off. Gadget then chucks Robo-Gadget’s head into the river while the headless body runs off. Brenda is taken captive by Scolex, who tries to escape with her in a helicopter, only to be confronted by Gadget, who arrives using his helicopter hat.
Scolex snags Gadget on the helicopter’s landing gear, suspending him in midair. Gadget uses a projectile pencil to disable Scolex's claw, allowing Brenda to leap out the helicopter onto his back. They fall to the ground but Gadget saves them using an umbrella. Scolex parachutes down but is trapped by the Gadgetmobile. The police arrive, believing Gadget was responsible for the destruction, but Penny arrives with a guilt-stricken Sykes who surrenders the foot and admits to Scolex's plans. Gadget earns respect from Quimby, and departs with Brenda and Penny, though Scolex promises revenge on his nemesis. In the end credits, several afterscene clips play, including Sykes going to a minion-recovery group, and the Gadgetmobile addresses the audience till the end of the credits.
- Matthew Broderick as John Brown/Inspector Gadget/RoboGadget
- Rupert Everett as Sanford Scolex/Dr. Claw
- Joely Fisher as Dr. Brenda Bradford/RoboBrenda
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny
- Dabney Coleman as Chief Quimby
- D. L. Hughley (voice) as the Gadgetmobile
- René Auberjonois as Dr. Artemus Bradford
- Don Adams (voice) as Brain
- Cheri Oteri as Mayor Wilson
- Andy Dick as Kramer
- Michael G. Hagerty as Sykes
- Frances Bay as Thelma
- J. P. Manoux as the Mayor's sycophantic assistant
- Brian George as the Sore Guru
- Richard Penn as Fantastic doctor
- Sonya Eddy as Hospital secretary
- Andy Heyward as Mr. D.I.C.
- Aaron Meyerson as himself
During the "Minions Anonymous" scene in the credits, the henchmen include Mr. T and Richard Kiel (who is credited as the "Famous Bad Guy with Silver Teeth", in reference to his role of James Bond's enemy Jaws), as well as Richard Lee-Sung as the "Famous Villain with Deadly Hat", Bobby Bell as the "Famous Identifier of Sea Planes", Hank Barrera as the "Famous Native American Sidekick", and Keith Morrison as the "Famous Assistant to Dr. Frankensomething". Broderick and Coleman previously worked together in the film WarGames.
Universal Pictures at one point had an option on the film rights to the animated TV show in 1993. Ivan Reitman signed on to produce with a script by Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman. Inspector Gadget moved to Disney when the film studio bought out DIC Entertainment. Disney hired David Kellogg to direct, best known for the "The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman" TV commercials and the 1991 Vanilla Ice film, Cool as Ice.
Brendan Fraser was considered for the role of Inspector Gadget, but turned it down on account of working on George of the Jungle, another live-action Disney film based on an animated cartoon. Kevin Kline was also considered for the role.
Steven Spielberg, a fan of the '80s cartoon, considered being the film's executive producer. His two choices for the role of Inspector Gadget were Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, but he was too busy with other films such as Saving Private Ryan.
Tim Curry was considered for the role of Claw.
Louis C.K. auditioned for a role as a police officer.
After a test screening, the film was cut to 78 minutes from the original 110-minute version.
The Gadgetmobile, designed by Brenda Bradford, is a silver 1964 Lincoln Continental convertible instead of a Matra Murena/Toyota Celica hybrid from the cartoon and can't transform from a minivan to a police vehicle and often drives by itself. It has an artificial intelligence with a male persona, allowing "him" to talk. Like most anthropomorphic cars, his front bumper acts as a mouth and he has eyes in his headlights. However, unlike them, who have two eyes, he has four. He also has a face on a computer screen on the dashboard. Among other things, he can camouflage himself, has a radar system to track Gadget's location (and other people's as well), can extend his tires upwards, has retractable jail bars in his back seat (for transporting criminals), a vending machine (options on this include Skittles (which spill everywhere when he crashes in to Claw's limo), M&M's, Sprite, Coca-Cola and McDonald's), sirens in the hood that attach to the windshield, and a jet engine he keeps in his trunk. His artificial intelligence has a laid-back personality. The Gadgetmobile openly breaks the law constantly (he is a particular fan of backturns), but claims it is okay: "Speed limits are for cars, not the Gadgetmobile." Comedian D. L. Hughley provides his voice.
Inspector Gadget received generally negative reviews from critics and viewers alike, criticizing the differences from the show itself (eg. the Gadgetmobile being able to talk and occasionally driving by himself and being a Lincoln Continental convertible , Gadget having a full head of hair, Brain being a beagle, Penny having brown hair, Dr. Claw revealing himself). On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a rating of 21%, based on 62 reviews, with the consensus reading: "Despite an abundance of eyecandy, the film doesn't amount to much." Metacritic reports a rating of 36 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times stated that it "wastes a lot of good talent". In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert said that fans were angered when Dr. Claw reveals himself in the movie.
Despite the negative reception from critics, the film was a moderate box office success with a worldwide gross of $134.4 million worldwide, against a budget of $90 million. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $21.9 million, finishing in second at the box office behind The Haunting ($33.4 million). In the UK, it grossed just over £7 million.
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