Dennis Quaid (Breaking Away) is a test pilot working on an experiment in which he would be miniaturized and injected into a laboratory animal. However, everything goes wrong when a group of saboteurs interfere with the experiment and he winds up inside the body of a grocery store clerk, played by Martin Short (Three Amigos).
Reaction & Thoughts:
After building up an impressive resume as a director, during the 1980s Steven Spielberg developed a lot of very successful projects in which he acted only as a producer. Innerspace is one of those films he would have directed himself had he not been striving for some respectability as a serious filmmaker at the time. Spielberg handed the reins of the film to director Joe Dante (a hot commodity after the enormous success of Gremlins, which by the way was also produced by Spielberg), and the result is a delightful and energetic movie, played to the hilt by a wonderful cast.
The story doesn’t bare scrutiny, with a lot of things that simply don’t make much sense, but Innerspace, written by Jeffrey Boam and Chip Proser, contains one amusing sequence after another, done at a frenetic pace, wonderfully supported by Short’s great comic performance and dazzling (for ’80s), Oscar-winning visual effects provided by George Lucas’s Industrial Light + Magic.
I have always been a big fan of director Dante. His films are consistently fun, and despite his almost reverential approach to genre films, the fact that all of his movies are replete with so many in-jokes always makes loyal movie buffs like me very happy. For example, in Dante’s 1981 cult horror classic The Howling, most of the main characters are named after famous horror movie directors. Piranha and Gremlins (with cameos by Steven Spielberg and Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet) follow his unique formula to the tee, always providing giggles along with chills for those viewers that are able to recognize slightly hidden references to other movies.
Innerspace is very much your typical Dante movie. From the opening sequence, to the frenetic and hair-raising dénouement of the movie (with a lot of stunt work and car chases), this movie is a lot of fun — it’s loaded with inside jokes and small tributes to many classic low-budget films. My only quibble was that it felt a bit overlong.
The fabulous supporting cast includes Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Fiona Lewis (Strange Invaders), and Robert Picardo (Explorers). Funny cameos by Dick Miller (Dante’s lucky charm), Kenneth Tobey (The Thing from Another World), legendary animator Chuck Jones, writer Boam, and director Dante. Fantastic music score by Jerry Goldsmith. Photographed by Andrew Laszlo. Special makeup effects designed and created by Rob Bottin (Star Wars).
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Innerspace is much sillier than Dante’s previous movies (an obvious tribute to the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage), but it is so well done that I’m sure many will enjoy it, especially kids. This is certainly a “popcorn” movie that was clearly conceived, written, and filmed with the only intention of entertaining viewers and generating great revenues — from this perspective, the movie is a success in every sense of the word. I was glad to be able to revisit this film again, now from a completely different perspective. If you are looking for a movie that the whole family could enjoy, this is the perfect film for you. Color, 120 minutes, Rated PG.