The live-action 1999 film based on the beloved cartoon series is appropriately cartoon-y. But that also makes it nearly unbearable for audiences looking for anything resembling coherent entertainment. The cheerful colors and splashy special effects turned the film into a box-office hit for its parent company Walt Disney, even generating a direct to DVD sequel a few years later, but I’ve never met one person who fondly recalls this picture. That’s most likely due to Inspector Gadget being a 78-minute wasteland of sub-par writing and pandering to an aging fanbase while still appealing to young viewers. Anybody interested in Gadget’s gimmicks should just watch the old Saturday morning cartoon series, I’d argue those goofy 30-minute episodes are more believable human characters than anything presented on-screen here.
Ferris Bueller star Matthew Broderick has been inexplicably cast as the titular character of Gadget. His story kind of follows the Robocop tale. He’s a low-level law enforcement public servant before he is killed in the line of duty. However, an eccentric scientist has been working on a top-secret program to link the mind with a mechanical body. Thus, Inspector Gadget is born…or assembled. Gadget is aptly named for the dozens of devices and accessories he possesses, all of which are at his becking if he mutters a certain famous phrase. Claw (Rupert Everett) is a once over-weight billionaire who wants possession of the scientist’s invention.
Inspector Gadget is such a confusing mess that at the mid-way point I gave up trying to follow the story and instead just stared blankly at the bombastic images and sounds coming from the screen. It’s as if the filmmakers knew they were in trouble and scrambled to reshape the movie into something marketable. Based on nostalgia alone Inspector Gadget made a killing in ticket sales, but if the creative team had taken the material seriously and treat the property with care a long-running franchise could have been likely. Instead, we are left with this unremarkable, unmemorable, un-inspired piece of cinematic trash.
Director: David Kellogg
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher