Inspector Gadget (1999)

Augmentation is a contentious issue, sure there are a lot of ways the tech could benefit us, but what about the cost of our humanity? Serious stuff, especially for a popular children’s cartoon about a bumbling cyborg cop. In 1999 like other properties Disney gave the inspector his own live-action spin-off a tale that was darker than the original, yet paradoxically light-hearted, in the eponymous Inspector Gadget.

Your hat revealing your innermost thoughts is an ethical nightmare… Though it’s a cool effect.

Wannabe cop John Brown works as a security guard for Bradford robotics, Johns job goes from bad to worse after Sandford Scolex, a rival tycoon, brutally murders his cyberneticist boss and steals valuable robotic parts. After confronting Scolex in a daring car chase John is left for death, He’s given a new body, a robotic body (that’s like a Swiss army knife on steroids, that responds to his commands) and a job on the police force, where he quickly gains fame. Scolex also survives but at the cost of his hand, replaced with a metallic claw. He assembles an evil Robo-Gadget to frame regular Gadget. Now Inspector Gadget must balance love, justice and a complicated new tool-set, as he (and his much savvier niece, Penny) brings down the nefarious Dr. Claw.

That seems like a lot, but this was before the Dot-com burst and the inherent evil.

The move from cartoon to live-action might seem limiting to the antics of the inept inspector, but you couldn’t tell from watching, like a lot of its contemporaries, Inspector Gadget utilises C.G.I. to great effect, augmenting the live action much like the eponymous Inspector is augmented. There’s a lot of great physical gags too, to delight both young and old and Broderick and co. commits to the slapstick and throws in a lot of referential gags to make the whole package shine.

Who knew that the special effects of the new Godzilla movie was just Matthew Broderick making hand puppets?!

These changes are also felt in the choices by the star-studded cast. Matthew Broderick channels a hopeful and sympathetic while also managing to capture the exact opposite with Robo-Gadget. Of course, in the cartoon, the elusive Claw is mostly depicted in mystery, hiding behind his chair… but when you’ve got someone as handsome as Rupert Everett, that would be a tremendous waste. He oozes with charm and malice, However, none of these feels like they’re doing a straight adaptation of the cartoon, instead they’re making the characters their own. It’s a feeling that runs through the film, and while I like the cartoon, I applaud Disney for the direction.

Actually seeing the man behind the claw is a nice touch.

Inspector Gadget works as a strong introduction to the character and as a fine stand-alone instalment. Taking familiar staples of the show, but injecting them with their own spins jokes and style that feels both unique and as a homage, while this film is just the beginning of gadget’s career leaving ample room for a sequel, to summarise: Forget Go-Go Gadget, this film go-go goes places!

If you’re bored of that Dale Cooper thumbs up G.I.F. might I suggest you switch to the Matthew Broderick variation?

If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!

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