Inspector Gadget is a 1999 American 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. Business 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 leave Gadget to die in a junkyard. Scolex unleashes Robo-Gadget, an evil robotic doppelganger 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, reviving 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 hostage 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 after-credit scenes play, including Sykes going to a minion-recovery group, and the Gadgetmobile addresses the audience until the end of the credits.
Why It Sucks
- Very, very awful jokes. Nostalgia Critic called this film, "a desperate attempt for laughs." The basic formula for the jokes is, as he stated: "Poorly edited slapstick, followed by weird wide-angle shot of some guy going “HUUH!?”, and Matthew Broderick looking like an idiot."
- Terrible editing. For example, in one scene there's a crook trying to escape, only for him to run and get captured in less than a second.
- Very poor grasp of the original source material.
- The main antagonist, Dr. Claw. shows his face, but in the cartoons his face was never revealed. Plus, his frighteningly deep voice from the cartoons has been replaced with a snooty, British accent.
- Terrible acting and casting choices (For example, Matthew Broderick as Inspector Gadget and Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw).
- Shameless product placements throughout the film, including Fox's hit animated show The Simpsons, Skittles, Yahoo! and Coca-Cola.
- Very boring and uninteresting story.
- The Gadgetmobile is changed from a silent car, which morphs into a sports fastback and van in the cartoon, into an annoying comic relief character in the movie.
- Dr. Claw in this movie seems more like a minion working for the original Dr. Claw.
- Also, Dr. Claw has a robot claw on his hand in this movie, after he gets it, he renames himself "Claw". Wait, shouldn't "Claw" already be his last name, because according to the cartoon, his real name is George Claw? Well, in this movie, his real name is Sanford Scolex, why not just rename himself Dr. Claw?
- There are cartoon sound effects used during every single second of the movie.
- Some scenes get too intense for a kids film. For example: Gadget accidentally grabs a guru by the crotch so hard that the tightness of the squeezing makes his eyes really big and make him have a girly voice (which is possibly the only funny part in the movie).
- The songs are decent, including a superb rendition of the Inspector Gadget theme.
- Some of the special effects aren't really that bad, despite some ill-execution.
- Richard Kiel and Mr. T make cameo appearances during the minion-recovery group scene in the credits.
- The role of Gadget was originally written for Kevin Kline.
- Steven Spielberg, who was considered for executive producer, wanted either Chevy Chase or Steve Martin to play Gadget.
- Brendan Fraser was also considered for the role of Gadget, but turned it down to work on George of the Jungle.
- Tim Curry was considered for the role of Claw.
- Lindsay Lohan turned down the role of Penny due to working on the remake of The Parent Trap.
- Cameron Diaz declined the role of Brenda in favor of Any Given Sunday.
- This was the final film to be distributed by Caravan Pictures.