Inspector Gadget (1999) starring Matthew Broderick, Rupert Everett, Joely Fisher, Michelle Trachtenberg, Andy Dick, Cheri Oteri directed by David Kellogg Movie Review

Inspector Gadget (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Matthew Broderick and Joely Fisher in Inspector Gadget


I always have to smile when a long established and popular cartoon gets the live action movie treatment because I know there will be those who hate it almost with a passion. They will hate the little differences and often the simplistic humour seeing it as a betrayal of an old favourite, a movie which wrecks memories. But they seem to forget that these live action updates are not made for those who have memories of watching the cartoon when they were a child but for a younger audience who will enjoy the simplistic and often stupid humour, not realising that certain things have changed.

So that brings me to "Inspector Gadget" the 1999 live action version of the popular cartoon and one which as you can guess disappointed those who had grown up watching the cartoon. And in fairness having grown up watching the cartoon "Inspector Gadget" the movie doesn't do it justice with various changes which didn't work for me. But then in reality this is a movie which whilst delivering the accident prone character is really a kids formula movie, good guy, bad guy, a little simple romance and a lot of simple humour. And as such young kids will enjoy seeing the accident prone Inspector use the wrong gadget whilst eventually saving the day even if it does little for adults.

Rupert Everett as Sanford Scolex in Inspector Gadget

When Sanford Scolex (Rupert Everett - My Best Friend's Wedding) breaks into a robotics laboratory to steal a revolutionary robot foot invented by Brenda (Joely Fisher - Mixed Nuts) and her father, security guard John Brown (Matthew Broderick - Election) gets seriously hurt chasing him. So hurt that Brenda uses him for a new project and after a lengthy operation where his body is mechanised he becomes Inspector Gadget the newest form of law officer. But with Scolex secretly up to no good building his own robot being Gadget must battle his evil nemesis to save the day with the help of his niece Penny (Michelle Trachtenberg), dog Brains and his gadget car.

So basically with "Inspector Gadget" we have a movie which takes the characters from the popular cartoon and then places them in a rather routine kids crime story. We do get an intro which explains how Uncle John Brown, a security guard ended up becoming Inspector Gadget whilst also establishing how Sanford Scolex got his claw but what follows on from there is routine. Now that is in some ways an issue because for adults this story is generic, the sort of crime caper found in many children's movies and whilst we have all the gadgets doesn't really grab what the original cartoon was about. But then for young audiences it is enough, it provides the vehicle for action, humour and comical characters the ingredients for a solid children's movie.

In many ways that means that "Inspector Gadget" is all about the visual entertainment starting with Uncle John getting use to his new gadget body, leading too various accidents and gaffs. Add to this the humour of the talking car with a mind of his own and there is plenty going on to amuse young audiences. Then there is the evil Sanford Scolex and his minion Sykes, who is as you expect comically inept, although we do get the best joke in the movie when the credits roll and Sykes goes to a help group for minions. But the thing is that all of this visual entertainment, the comical fights, the accidents and plenty of CGI body parts springing out is fun for young audiences but quite dull for adults.

And that mix of entertaining for the young but dull for adults continue to the performances. Rupert Everett could have been a wonderful over the top evil nemesis but it is toned down, it's kiddie friendly but dull for grown ups. Matthew Broderick delivers the simple comedy as Inspector Gadget with facial expressions to make young children laugh but lacks the quirkiness to make adults laugh. And so it goes on because "Inspector Gadget" is a movie totally focussed on delivering children friendly entertainment but lacking anything for those who grew up watching the cartoon.

What this all boils down to is that "Inspector Gadget" is a children's movie, focussed on children friendly entertainment and it delivers it. The trouble is that for adults who grew up watching "Inspector Gadget" will be disappointed because it turns a fun cartoon into just another average children's movie which betrays their memories.