Innerspace

Innerspace. Amblin Entertainment 1987.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t recall at the moment if this started as a direct remake/sequel to Fantastic Voyage, was merely inspired by it openly, or just has a similar concept, but I do know that I was first made aware of the existence of Innerspace when researching Voyage. I have dim recollections that it might be a “suggested by” treatment of the novel sequel to Voyage?

Anyway, I also just discovered it has Martin Short as the hapless fellow who doesn’t realize he’s got a tiny explorer inside him, which ramps up my interest in it. Also, the idea of cutting back to comedy sequences outside caused by what’s going on inside reminds me of Osmosis Jones, only with live action/VFX instead of cartoon animation.

After watching the movie:

Navy pilot Tuck Pendleton leaves the Navy to join a secret experiment. The plan for the experiment is to use prototype miniaturization technology to shrink a sub piloted by Tuck down small enough to be injected into a rabbit, but once the sub is sucked into the syringe, a gang of tech criminals break into the lab and steal the chip that runs the miniaturization equipment. Fleeing with the syringe to a nearby mall, the lab supervisor is fatally wounded and injects Tuck into the first person he can reach. That person is Jack Putter, a neurotic man in a dead-end salesclerk job with hypochondria providing the foundation of his doctor’s practice. Unable to get a response from the lab, Tuck uses the experimental equipment on board to plant a camera in the host’s eye to see what’s going on, and then a radio device in Jack’s ear to allow him to communicate. Returning to the lab, they learn what’s happened, that Tuck has less than a day of air left, and that as the powers that be intend to wait out the thieves since the miniaturization chip is useless without the restore chip in the sub, Tuck will have to take matters into Jack’s own hands to get out of this alive.

I wasn’t expecting really any direct interaction between inside and outside, but it makes for something like a buddy movie where the two main characters don’t meet face to face while they have to work together. It’s a natural evolution of the idea of “mininaut inside a person” and is a richer source of material than bumbling around inside him trying to make things happen by stimulating the right things.

I completely didn’t recognize Robert Picardo in the scene introducing The Cowboy, due to his thick accent, thick wig, and thick brownface. It’s the late 80s and they’re still casting white actors as Latin stereotypes?

Of course, Short carries the movie. Quaid makes chatter on the radio, but he spends the whole movie strapped into a chair in a confined space. I wanted to include Tuck’s girlfriend in the summary, but she really doesn’t impact the main plot in notable ways. Jack has the room to be funny and to grow seriously as a character.

It’s not the high concept art piece a lot more notable scifi concepts. It seems very low budget sometimes, but it’s not trying to be fascinating, it’s trying to be fun and cash in, and it does that handily.

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One thought on “Innerspace

  1. Paul S August 13, 2017 / 3:43 am

    I’ve got fond memories of Innerspace, I first watched it as a teenager and was instantly smitten with Meg Ryan. Outside of Flesh and Bone I’d say it’s my favourite Dennis Quaid film too.
    You know your review has got me thinking and it’s probably more than 10 years since I last watched this one. I think it’s high time I dug out the DVD!

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