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IN SHORT: Kidlets'll Go-Go-Bananas [Rated [PG], 87 minutes]
Matthew Broderick and Cranky agree on at least one thing; we're both too old to have known Inspector Gadget from his teevee toon incarnation. Cranky doesn't compare to Source Material and Matthew discusses his angle over in StarTalk (we were discussing Election, but Cranky thinks ahead).
From an adult point-of-view, Inspector Gadget is a blend of Robocop and Get Smart (whose star, Don Adams, voiced the cartoon Gadget and contributes a voice cameo to this flick). For kidlets, Inspector Gadget is the ultimate in cool. With 14-foot long telescoping legs, helicopter blades that pop out of his head, high tech spy gadgets built into every fingertip (not to mention a toothbrush and toothpaste dispenser -- cleanliness is next to Gadget-ness, you know) he's every fantastic single digit kidlet fantasy come to life.
Or as my 6-year old nephew puts it: "Gadget is so totally awesome." Since the neph wasn't available to sneak peak Inspector Gadget with the best uncle in the world, me, Cranky sat himself down amidst a bunch of parents who had brought their kidlets. We watched security guard John Brown (Matthew Broderick) get transformed into uber-cop Gadget to track down the evil villain Sanford Scolex, aka Claw (Rupert Everett), killer of kindly inventor Artemus Bradford (René Auberjonois), father of the girl John has his heart set on, Brenda Bradford (Joely Fisher). We thrilled to the utter intelligence of John Brown's niece Penny (Michele Trachtenberg) 'cuz, as sweet as her uncle is, Gadget is a bit of a dim bulb.
Good thing Gadget has a spare bulb in his hat, which pops up and flashes bright yellow when he has an idea. With a surplus of cartoon imagery, us old folks (those with attention spans that last longer than 40 seconds or so) will be totally lost inside of the world of Gadget. Inside that world is a fast talking super-car, the Gadgetmobile (voiced by D. L. Hughley) built for comfort. The car not only has it's own bunch of super gadgets, it has built in Skittles, Coca-Cola and Big Mac dispensers. [Think about it for a second; with VCR systems now being built into mini-vans, how long is it going to be before mini-microwaves and refrigerators join the party?]
There's a pair of below the belt jokes that are aimed strictly at adults -- kids'll laugh at the slapstick without feeling our pain -- and enough references to old flicks (Mission Impossible, Mary Poppins, Godzilla) to keep our attention from flagging, but Gadget ain't for us. But we knew that walking in. I'll let the film students complain about visual and continuity errors, of which there are many, or a story that barely holds together. Cranky writes for the grownups, all of whom will want to know if Inspector Gadget is fit for their kids. Yep. No doubt about it.
So, don't be complaining about the rating, 'cuz that's for the adults, all of whom will take the kidlets to the theater, then rent this flick until they give in and buy it.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Inspector Gadget, he would have paid...
Rental level for reasons previously stated. Every kidlet I talked with or eavesdropped on, most in the 6 - 9 year old range, were thrilled by Inspector Gadget, and wanted to see it again.
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