Inspector Gadget (film)

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Inspector Gadget
Inspector gadget ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Kellogg
Produced by Roger Birnbaum
Andy Heyward
Jordan Kerner
Aaron Meyerson
Screenplay by Kerry Ehrin
Zak Penn
Story by Dana Olsen
Kerry Ehrin
Based on Inspector Gadget 
by Andy Heyward
Jean Chalopin
Bruno Bianchi
Starring Matthew Broderick
Rupert Everett
Joely Fisher
Michelle Trachtenberg
Dabney Coleman
D. L. Hughley
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Edited by Alan Cody
Thom Noble
Gerald B. Greenberg (Special edition version only)
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • July 23, 1999 (1999-07-23)
Running time
78 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $90 million[1]
Box office $134.4 million[1]

Inspector Gadget is a 1999 live-action 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. Two new characters were introduced, Brenda Bradford (played by Joely Fisher) 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 absorbed into Spyglass Entertainment. The film was followed by the 2003 direct-to-video stand-alone sequel Inspector Gadget 2.


John Brown (Matthew Broderick) works as a security guard at the laboratory run by robotics scientist and John's love interest, Brenda Bradford (Joely Fisher) and her father Artemus Bradford (René Auberjonois) in Riverton, Ohio while wishing to join the Riverton Police Department, with support from his niece Penny (Michelle Trachtenberg). Brenda and Artemus create a lifelike robotic foot which they can control through thought as a prototype for the Gadget Program. However, tycoon Sanford Scolex (Rupert Everett) attacks the lab, kills Artemus and steals the foot in his plan to replicate the technology, create an army of machines and eventually conquer the world. John chases Scolex but his Chevrolet Chevette is turned upside down due to some oil slick from the tycoon's limo, SCOLEX 1. Scolex mockingly throws a "victory cigar" (dynamite in disguise) right beside John's car, causing it to blow up, and leaving Brown barely alive with extensive tissue damage. However, the explosion causes a bowling ball from the car to fly up in the air and crush Scolex's left hand. Brenda decides to turn John into a completely cybernetic man using a computer chip which powers John’s in-built gadgetry.

Meanwhile, Scolex's paranoid assistant Kramer (Andy Dick) builds a robotic claw to replace Scolex's hand, with Scolex calling himself Dr. Claw. Afterwards, he tries to move a robot with the stolen equipment, but this fails. When chief henchman Sykes (Mike Hagerty) calls it a lemon, Claw has him try it on as well, but instead, Sykes is injured by the electronics and Claw concludes that he needs Brenda's help.

John, now with the name of "Inspector Gadget", joins the police much to the irritation of his boss, Chief Quimby (Dabney Coleman). Accompanied by his talking, intelligent car, the "Gadgetmobile" (voiced by D. L. Hughley), he is forced to do community service assignments. Gadget is disappointed with his mediocre work and decides to take up the Bradford case in secret and with help from Penny and Gadgetmobile. Claw, meanwhile, completes an evil replica of the inspector, named RoboGadget (also played by Broderick), and powers him with a chip similar to Gadget's own chip, then sends him out to terrorize the city. Gadget realizes Claw may be endangering Brenda after establishing a connection to some evidence from the crime (the letters "S.I" matched the initials on a truck labeled "Scolex Industries"). Brenda learns from RoboBrenda (a ditzy, empty-headed duplicate Scolex keeps around) (also played by Fisher) that Claw murdered her father. Gadget sneaks into Claw's lair but is captured. Claw "kills" Gadget by removing and crushing his computer chip, before dumping him in a junkyard.

RoboGadget goes on a rampage across the city, whilst Brenda, Penny, her dog Brain and Gadgetmobile come across Gadget in the junkyard. Brenda manages to revive Gadget by kissing him, proving that although mechanical, he still has a human heart. The group rushes to Riverton to stop Claw and RoboGadget. John confronts RoboGadget and they battle across a bridge until John pulls a cord on his counterpart’s neck, causing his head to fall off, which the inspector throws into the nearby river, whilst RoboGadget’s body runs off.

Later, Brenda is taken captive by Claw who attempts to make his escape in a helicopter. Gadget appears, using his helicopter hat, but is shot down and suspended from the landing gear of Claw’s helicopter above the city. Gadget launches a pen into the helicopter's cockpit and hits the shutdown button on Claw's claw, crushing the controls. Gadget and Brenda escape, using an umbrella to sail safely to the ground. Claw follows but is caught by the Gadgetmobile. The police arrive and although they think Gadget is responsible for the recent attacks, Penny appears with Sykes who hands over the robotic foot to Chief Quimby, and tell him of Claw's creation of RoboGadget to terrorize Riverton. As Gadget and Brenda walk away along with Penny and the police, Claw yells out as the police take him into custody, "Arrivederci, Gadget! This is not goodbye. I'll get you next time, Gadget! I'll get you!". At the end, Gadget launches fireworks from his right foot while Gadgetmobile chases a red Volkswagen.

During the closing credits, RoboBrenda is shown teaching "robo-aerobics", RoboGadget's body is running around town still without his head, Sykes is being congratulated at a minion-recovery group, Penny is now equipped with a watch trying to make contact with Brain (when Brain responds, he uses Don Adams' voice from the original cartoon), and finally, the Gadgetmobile's computer screen thanks us for watching his movie, even though it's called "Inspector Gadget". He says that he got married to the Volkswagen at a drive-through chapel and they are expecting a small car soon. He's thinking of calling it "The Love Bug", which he says is in no way a plug for his employer, the Walt Disney Company, even though he's sure the young one will say, "I'm going to Disneyland!" when he's old enough. Lastly, he asks the audience not to leave the theater yet, as all the people in the credits make him look good. In the post-credits scene, he asks the audience to leave the theater, and says "Good night, Riverton!".


During the "Minions Anonymous" scene in the credits, the henchmen include Mr. T and Richard Kiel (who is credited as the "Famous Bad Guy with Silver Teeth", in reference to his role of James Bond's enemy Jaws), as well as Richard Lee-Sung as the "Famous Villain with Deadly Hat", Bobby Bell as the "Famous Identifier of Sea Planes", Hank Barrera as the "Famous Native American Sidekick", and Keith Morrison as the "Famous Assistant to Dr. Frankensomething". Broderick and Coleman previously worked together in the film WarGames.


After a test screening, the film was cut down to 78 minutes from the original 110 minute version.[2]

The Gadgetmobile[edit]

The Gadgetmobile, designed by Brenda Bradford, is a 1964 Lincoln Continental convertible instead of a Matra Murena car from the cartoon, and has an artificial intelligence with a male persona. Among other things, "he" can camouflage himself, has a radar system to track Gadget's location (and other people as well), can extend his tires upwards, has retractable jail bars in his back seat for transporting criminals, and has a powerful engine he keeps in his back trunk. His artificial intelligence also has a laid-back personality. The Gadgetmobile openly breaks the law constantly (he is a particular fan of backturns), but claims it's okay: "Speed limits are for cars, not the Gadgetmobile." Comedian D. L. Hughley provides his voice.


The soundtrack of the film, composed by John Debney, contains the single "I'll Be Your Everything" by the boy band Youngstown.


Critical response[edit]

Inspector Gadget received generally negative reviews from critics and viewers alike, criticizing the differences from the show itself. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a rating of 21%, based on 62 reviews, with the consensus reading: "Despite an abundance of eyecandy, the film doesn't amount to much."[3] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 36 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times stated that it "wastes a lot of good talent".[4] In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert said that fans were angered when Dr. Claw reveals himself in the movie.[5]

Box office[edit]

Despite the negative reception from critics, the film was a moderate box office success with a worldwide gross of $134.4 million worldwide, against a budget of $90 million.[1] In its opening weekend, the film grossed $21.9 million, finishing in second at the box office behind The Haunting ($33.4 million). In the UK, it grossed just over £7 million.


  1. ^ a b c "Inspector Gadget (1999) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 5, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Inspector Gadget". 
  3. ^ "Inspector Gadget (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (July 23, 1999). "FILM REVIEW; The Adventures of a Justice-Seeking Gizmo". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ Roger Ebert (July 23, 1999). "Inspector Gadget". 

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