The views of a rabble-rouser and former stay-at-home dad on protests, politics, parenthood, groupthink, and music.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Inspector Gadget Saves the Day, Maybe
My kid is watching an Inspector Gadget movie that he found on Netflix. I want to save you the trouble, in case your small child is thinking about watching it.
If you're able to tolerate Inspector Gadget, it's fine. It's about the Inspector discovering some giant egg that hatches into a gigantic flying lizard who wreaks havoc all over Metro City. Wacky hijinks ensue, and everyone seems to have a different idea what to do with the lizard. The mayor wants to turn it into a tourist attraction. Dr. Klaw wants to use it to destroy the city. Inspector Gadget wants to make it his juggling partner.
There's some weirdness in the show. Penny is 16 and doesn't look much like her original version. (Her voice is identical, which frankly is just weird.) There's a GadgetMobile, inexplicably voiced by Bernie Mac. (My guess: 1) money, 2) he wanted to impress his kids.) There's a Scottish bad guy, for no apparent reason.
The whole premise of Inspector Gadget is that everyone is incompetent. Let's just lay that on the table. The inspector is the biggest buffoon, of course. Every time he solves something, it's by complete accident. But the bad guys are also incompetent, and come up with absurd schemes that never work. And never make sense. The mayor is an idiot, the chief is a doofus, pretty much everybody is an idiot except the dog.
Here, the movie ramps up the incompetence factor. Dr. Klaw (who has the best voice of the show) wants to control the lizard, so he has his henchmen try to feed it some kind of remote control electronic device blah blah whatever. The lizard won't eat it. What kind of super villain has plans that fail because an animal won't eat something?! Goon.
The Scottish assistant is also incompetent. Penny is helpless - she seems more of a damsel in distress than she ever did in the show, in fact. She does a lot of screaming and flailing and crying for help. She has a boy who seems to have a crush on her (again, was there ever a boy in the show? We didn't need this subplot.) The boy's also an inventor, but he completely fails at inventing some kind of potion that ends up saving the day. So the world is saved because Inventor Boy screws up.
It's a fine waste of time, but just be prepared as an adult to yell at the screen a lot. It's computer generated, so it doesn't have the warm feel of the original cartoon. One other difference: it sadly doesn't have the voice of Don Adams, who passed away in 2005. The guy who does the Inspector's voice does a fine impersonation, but it's clearly not the original voice.
I always thought that the device of the show was that Penny and the dog were the real brains behind the Inspector. But here, nobody has the brains. They all seem so confused that it's amazing the entire city doesn't come crumbling down around their ears. It's a little disappointing on that front. Still, like I said, if you're stuck inside and your kid has to watch something, it's not the worst thing on Netflix.