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 (also known as Inspector Gadget: The Movie and The Real Inspector Gadget in the working title) is a 1999 American science fiction action comedy film directed by David Kellogg and written by Kerry Ehrin and Zak Penn from a story by Ehrin and Dana Olsen. Loosely based on the 1983 animated television series of the same name, the film stars Matthew Broderick as the title character, Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw, Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny and Dabney Coleman as Chief Quimby. Three new characters were introduced such as 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. 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.
Produced by Caravan Pictures and DiC Entertainment (which was owned by The Walt Disney Company at the time of production), the film was released theatrically by Walt Disney Pictures on July 23, 1999. It was the last film produced by Caravan Pictures, as the company merged 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 a moderate box office success with a worldwide gross of $134.4 million against a $90 million budget despite receiving negative reviews from critics. It was followed by the 2003 direct-to-video sequel Inspector Gadget 2, though none of the original cast (except D. L. Hughley) reprised their roles.
Jonathan "John" Brown, is a person who dreams of helping people as a cop, but is currently a security guard at the Bradford robotics laboratory in Riverton, Ohio, run by Artemus Bradford and his daughter Brenda, to whom John is attracted. Brenda and Artemus are working to create a lifelike robotic foot as part of the Gadget Program, an operation for robotic cops. One night, a sadistic tycoon thief named Sanford Scolex breaks into the lab, grabs the foot, and assassinates Artemus before escaping in his limousine. Brown then chases him in his Chevrolet Chevette, and during the ensuing chase, Scolex uses an oil slick. This makes John lose control of his car, resulting in the car skidding into a crash. Scolex then blows John up using explosives disguised as a cigar and leaves him for dead. However, John's bowling ball is launched out of the destroyed Chevette by the blast and crushingly smashes Scolex's left hand, forcing him to replace it with a mechanical claw and take the alias "Dr. Claw."
Brenda chooses a barely alive John to be the first test subject for the Gadget Program. Under her guidance, John becomes Inspector Gadget, equipped with a variety of crime-fighting and investigating tools in his body, as well as a car named the Gadgetmobile run by an AI program. Claw, with the help of scientist Kramer and minion Sykes, plots to use the technology he stole to make robotic mercenaries to sell to the world. However, he is unable to get the foot to function due to a control chip left in the lab. Police chief Quimby, seeing Gadget as merely a publicity stunt and not a true police officer, refuses to let him help on the Bradford case, causing Gadget to procure evidence on his own. With help from his niece Penny, Gadget suspects Claw, who Brenda now works for. Claw uses Brenda's robotics research to manufacture a new control chip for his android, a robotic version of Gadget, "Robo-Gadget," and sets it loose to cause chaos in Riverton. Gadget infiltrates Claw's lab but is caught and deactivated, Claw crushing his control chip.
Brenda, Penny, her dog Brain, and the Gadgetmobile track Gadget to the junkyard but find him unresponsive. Brenda kisses him, and the power of Gadget's heart reanimates his body without the need for the NSA chip. After dropping Penny and Brain off at home, Gadget, Brenda and the Gadgetmobile give chase to Claw's limo. Gadget and Robo-Gadget are thrown off and battle with each other, ending with Gadget detaching Robo-Gadget's head. Gadget uses his helicopter hat to fly to Claw's headquarters, where he is planning to escape with Brenda via a helicopter. In the confrontation, Gadget uses an improvised weapon to forcibly activate Claw's claw, breaking the helicopter's control stick and causing it to go out of control. Gadget and Brenda use a parasol to escape safely, and Claw escapes from the helicopter going in a crash landing and lands via parachute but is immediately caught by the Gadgetmobile and then is arrested by the police. Penny arrives with a guilt-stricken Sykes who surrenders the technology Claw stole from Brenda and has told Penny and Sykes everything to Chief Quimby all about Claw's plans. Saluted by Quimby, Gadget victoriously departs with Brenda and Penny as Claw vows revenge.
During the end credits, several after-scene clips play, including Sykes going to a minion-recovery group, and the Gadgetmobile addresses the audience until the end of the credits.
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.
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Universal Pictures at one point had an option on the film rights to the animated television series 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. At one point, Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly were considered to write and direct. Martin Scorsese was also considered to direct. Disney eventually hired David Kellogg to direct, best known for "The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman" TV commercials and the Vanilla Ice film, Cool as Ice (1991). At one point, Steven Spielberg, a fan of the 1980s cartoon, considered being the film's executive producer, but he was too busy with other films such as Saving Private Ryan.
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, Steve Carell, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Robin Williams were also considered for the role.
When Steven Spielberg considered being the film's executive producer, his two choices for the role of Inspector Gadget were Chevy Chase and Steve Martin, while the Farrelly brothers choice was Jim Carrey.
Eddie Murphy was considered for the role of the Gadgetmobile.
Louis C.K. auditioned for a role as a police officer.
The Gadgetmobile, designed by Brenda Bradford, is a white & chrome 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. Like most anthropomorphic cars, "his" front bumper is his mouth and he has eyes in his headlights. However, unlike those cars, who have two eyes, he has four. He also has a face on a computer screen on the dashboard and a license plate that reads "GADGET". 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, M&M's, Surge, 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.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 21%, based on 63 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 mentioned that fans were angered when Dr. Claw reveals himself in the movie.
At the 1999 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film received five nominations: Worst Picture, Worst Director (Kellogg), Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy, Worst Resurrection of a TV Show, and Least "Special" Special Effects.
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 United Kingdom, it grossed just over £7 million.
Inspector Gadget 2 is a 2003 made-for-video sequel to Inspector Gadget, with French Stewart taking over the title role. It follows Gadget getting a replacement named G2 (Elaine Hendrix) who is a woman-like version of Gadget. Meanwhile, Claw gets out of prison and plans to steal gold from the United States Treasury, so it's up to Gadget, Penny, Brain and G2 to stop Claw's plans.
Although the sequel drew more from its source material than the original film, it received mixed reviews and a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews. The film was released on March 11, 2003.
In May 2015, it was announced that a new film with a rebooted version of the character is currently in development. It will be by Disney, with Dan Lin producing it. In October 2019, Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell were hired to write the film. In January 2020, the reboot was confirmed it would be on Disney+.