Inspector Gadget (1999)

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Inspector Gadget (1999)
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And this is one of the main reasons why Disney owning DiC is a bad idea.
Genre: Action
Directed By: David Kellogg
Produced By: Roger Birnbaum
Andy Heyward
Jordan Kerner
Written By/Screenplay: Kerry Ehrin
Zak Penn
Kerry Ehrin
Dana Olsen
Based On: Inspector Gadget (1982 TV series)
by Bruno Bianchi
Jean Chalopin
Andy Heyward
Starring: Matthew Broderick
Rupert Everett
Joely Fisher
Michelle Trachtenberg
Mike Hagerty
Andy Dick
Cheri Oteri
Dabney Coleman
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Distributed By: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: July 23, 1999
Runtime: 78 Minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $90 million
Box Office: $134.4 million
Franchise: Inspector Gadget
Sequel: Inspector Gadget 2 (2003)

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. It was followed by the 2003 direct-to-video stand-alone sequel Inspector Gadget 2.


John Brown (Matthew Broderick) is a bumbling but well-intentioned security guard who is badly injured in an explosion planned by an evil mastermind. He is taken to a laboratory, where Brenda (Joely Fisher), a leading robotics surgeon, replaces his damaged limbs with state-of-the-art gadgets and tools. Named "Inspector Gadget" by the press, John -- along with his niece, Penny (Michelle Trachtenberg), and her trusty dog, Brain -- uses his new powers to discover who was behind the explosion.

Why It Isn't the Greatest Film Ever Assembled

  1. Terrible and bland 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.
    • Over forty minutes were cut from the film, which explains the bad editing.
  2. Very poor grasp of the original source material. For instance:
    • Gadget, Dr. Claw, Penny, Brain, and The Gadgetmobile behave nothing like their cartoon counterparts.
      • The main antagonist, Dr. Claw, shows his face, but in the cartoons it was never revealed. Plus, his frighteningly deep voice from the cartoons has been replaced with a snooty, British accent (although his actor, Rupert Everett, was British himself).
        • 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?
      • Penny has brown hair instead of blonde hair and barely helps Gadget.
      • Like Garfield: The Movie, Brain was played by a live dog, rather than being animated in 2D or CGI.
      • 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.
        • The Gadgetmobile also has poor lip sync.
  3. Corny and horrible acting, even from actors such as Matthew Broderick and Rupert Everett, who does a poor Dr. Claw impression.
    • Speaking of Matthew Broderick, he was unbelievably miscast as John Brown/Inspector Gadget.
      • In the scene where Brown/Gadget sneaks into Claw's hideout to find a moving foot made out of robot parts, he says "Wowser!" instead of "Wowsers!", leading into misconfusion among fans of the cartoon.
  4. Laughable dialogue including Claw's infamous "God you're irritating!" line.
  5. Shameless product placements throughout the film (especially considering that director David Kellogg has an extensive background in commercials) which includes Yahoo!, Kodak, Tommy Hilfiger, Sony, RCA, JVC, Forbes, Gateway 2000, Nike, Energizer, Crayola, Pez, Magic 8-Ball, Coca-Cola, Surge, Sprite, McDonald's, Skittles, M&M's, Toyota, and even The Simpsons.
  6. There are cartoon sound effects used during every single second of the movie (despite the film being based on a cartoon).
  7. Robo-Gadget is a pretty silly and uninteresting secondary villain, with Broderick's performance worsening it.
  8. Terrible special effects for late 90s standards, which tries to match the show's cartoonish humor, but it ironically looks way too cartoony and cheap looking, especially when compared to The Mask.
    • In fact, the CGI is so bad, that you can see the pixels on the Disney castle in the beginning when the camera is focused on it for a split second, which ruins the illusion.
  9. The film can get WAY too scary for children.
  10. Unfunny jokes during the film, especially with Gadget saying "Go Go Gadget!" everytime while falling in the climax.
  11. There are some unnecessary innuendos like where Gadget got aroused near Brenda and shot a missile from his hat. In a deleted scene, Gadget replies “That’s never happened to me before.”
  12. Some scenes make no sense. For example, in one scene, Gadget says "Go Go Gadget Oil Slick!", but, for some reason, he shoots toothpaste instead. It could be that he got some glitches like in the sequel.
    • The way how Gadget captures Dr. Claw also makes no sense, he disables his helicopter then Claw jumps out and opens a parachute, but then the Gadgetmobile captures Dr. Claw.
  13. The movie ends on a sort of sequel bait ending with Claw yelling "I'll get you, Gadget!"
  14. Very poor directing from David Kellogg, the same director behind Cool as Ice.
  15. The film feels like it was made to capitalize on better movies and shows like Knight Rider (1982) (similar plot to that show's two-part pilot episode and a similar anthropomorphic car), The Love Bug (the 1999 movie's Gadgetmobile had a strong resemblance to Herbie, the Love Bug) and The Mask (a similar superhero movie with similar wacky CGI effects (albeit in a poorly executed manner), a similar main villain in a suit with his henchmen, and a similar romance sub-plot).
  16. The other thing of the film is it alternatively rips off Darkman, RoboCop, and Dick Tracy.
  17. Some of the pacing isn't very good.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The songs are decent, including "I’ll Be Your Everything" and a superb rendition of the Inspector Gadget theme.
  2. Some of the special effects aren't really that bad, despite some ill-execution.
  3. Richard Kiel and Mr. T make cameo appearances during the minion-recovery group scene in the credits.
  4. The Gadgetmobile is fun to watch, with D.L. Hughley being a scene-stealer.
  5. There are three new characters that isn't in the 1983 cartoon, including Joely Fisher as Dr. Brenda Bradford.
  6. Inspector Gadget's suit does look accurate to the cartoon.
  7. The scenes where Gadget uses his weapons are fun and kids may love them.
    • In addition, his gadgets do look cool.


The film received negative reviews from critics and fans of the 1983 animated series. The film currently holds an approval rating of 21% based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 3.97/10. The site's critics consensus states: "Despite an abundance of eyecandy, the film doesn't amount to much." Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.

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 gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four and mentioned that fans were angered when Dr. Claw reveals himself in the movie. Ian Freer of Empire Magazine gave the film a two out of five stars, saying, "Something more engaging would not have gone amiss."

Box Office

The film opened up at #2 on its opening weekend grossing $21,889,138 domestically. The film would later earn a total domestic gross of $97,403,112. In foreign territories, it grossed $37,000,000. Overall, the film grossed $134,403,112 worldwide against its $75-90 million budget making it a moderate success.


  • The mid-credits scene features Don Adams (the voice of Gadget in the cartoon) as the voice of Brain.
  • 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, while the Farrelly Brothers wanted Jim Carrey.
  • Brendan Fraser was also considered for the role of Gadget, but turned it down to work on George of the Jungle. Other candidates included Tim Allen, Steve Carell, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Mike Myers, Bill Paxton, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, and Robin Williams.
  • Tim Curry, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Hopper, James Earl Jones, Tommy Lee Jones, John Lithgow, and Jack Nicholson were all considered for the role of Dr. Claw.
  • Lindsay Lohan turned down the role of Penny due to working on the remake of The Parent Trap. Emmy Rossum also auditioned for the role.
  • Cameron Diaz declined the role of Brenda in favor of Any Given Sunday.
  • David Alan Grier, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Tucker were all considered to voice the Gadgetmobile.
  • This was the final film to be co-produced by Caravan Pictures (mentioned earlier).
  • Before Caravan Pictures went out of business, the company distributed other films like Tall Tale, Angels in the Outfield and Gone Fishin'.


External links


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