Absolutely terrible live-action insult to the original cartoon series...
I loved watching Inspector Gadget when I was a kid and again years later when episodes were replayed on Nickelodeon and The Family Channel. There was something about a totally clueless bionic police inspector with his niece and dog doing all the real detective work that was just charming. Maybe it was the gadgets that could fit into his body, like the Gadget Copter, the Gadget Phone, and the Gadget Legs with springs. Maybe it was Penny's portable computer disguised as a book. Maybe it was Chief Quimby always getting blown up by his own self-destructing messages to Gadget.
Whatever it was, it was totally missing in this 1999 adaptation of the cartoon. I went to see it knowing it wasn't going to be good, but oh boy. I didn't think it was gonna be THIS bad. First off, Matthew Broderick is totally forgettable as Gadget and even as the regular man he was before getting into a terrible accident and having special machinery built into him. The other characters from the show are totally lame as well. Penny and her dog Brain are regular characters, not a clever girl with a computer book and a dog with a radio in his collar. And Chief Quimby is not someone whom works a lot with Gadget and gives him messages that will self-destruct. In fact, the movie takes place in a city called Riverton, not Metro City as in the animated series.
I purposely left out one character from above to discuss him here in detail: Dr. Claw. If you watched the cartoon on TV, you'll know that Dr. Claw's face is never seen. All you see is a dark hand, which could be a mechanical hand or a glove covering a real hand, protruding from his chair. He is sitting in front of a desk with a computer as he communicates with his agents in MAD, their criminal organization. The MAD cat sits on the desk as well. Sounds great, huh? Now replace this character with Rupert Everett with an artificial metal claw and a really unfunny and unmenacing performance. And throw in Andy Dick as an assistant. Now you know how I feel.
So there's no point in telling about the plot, except that part of it involves creating a fake Inspector Gadget that would commit crimes to frame the real one. The whole movie went by so fast, and it was so bad that I was glad it didn't last more than 90 minutes. The jokes were terrible. I cared about nothing related to this movie. It's movies like this that urge me to wait for professional critics' opinions first before wasting nine dollars and two hours out of my life. The movie was bad. It really was.
I'll say this even though I'm tempted to say this many times. You don't adapt a TV show or other creative work without understanding its appeal first. Making whatever you want without regards to quality and slapping on a familiar trademark does not make the fans happy. This is the lesson to be learned from this movie and many other bad film adaptations in existence. That's all I will say on this topic. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll try to find some old episodes of Inspector Gadget to watch.
For more information about Inspector Gadget, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review for the original animated TV show Inspector Gadget.