When Joe Dante wanted to do a remake of Fantastic Voyage, I liked the way he decided to make his version into a comedy. I was surprised to discover that this film wasn't too successful, because I believe Innerspace is good solid entertainment, albeit daft.
The story begins when Lt Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid), an excellent pilot but an irresponsible hard drinker volunteers for a highly unusual experiment. He will be placed inside a submersible pod, and with the use of two microchips, be miniaturised and injected into a laboratory rabbit (called Bugs, what is it about Joe Dante and Looney Tunes characters anyway?).
But just after Tuck has been shrunk, a group of Silicon Valley industrial spies break into the lab, and steal one of the microchips necessary to reverse the miniaturisation process. In desperation, one of the scientists (Ozzie) runs with the syringe Tuck is in, and injects him into the body of Jack Putter (Martin Short).
Jack is a stressed out hypochondriac who is terrified of life, and learning that a shrunken human being is inside his body doesn't make him any less neurotic. With Tuck and Jack now having to depend on each other for survival, they team up with Tuck's ex girlfriend Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan) to recover the stolen chip before Tuck's air supply runs out.
I must confess to being a sucker for these loser comes out on top stories, and this film is no exception. Jack is a man who has nothing going for him in life, but with Tuck urging him on, Jack manages to find inner confidence he never knew he had and takes control of his life.
Both Tuck and Jack's characters go through changes in this film. Seeing the world through Jack's eyes, Tuck begins to reflect upon the mistakes he has made in his life. His irresponsible behaviour and heavy drinking was responsible for Lydia breaking up with him, and he wouldn't be in the situation he's in now if he hadn't recklessly gone through with this hare brained experiment.
Dennis Quaid makes a likable character as Tuck, because although he is a wise guy, his pep talks to Jack are quite inspiring and how you can learn to take control of your own destiny.
Martin Short is also a likable hero as Jack, although he does have a tendency to go over the top. Although he is supposed to be neurotic, his antics can grate on you a little on occasion. Some of his antics can be funny too, such as the crazy dance he does in Tuck's apartment, and yelling "I'm possessed" when he first hears Tuck's voice inside his head.
The different scrapes they get into are quite exciting, such as Jack's hanging on for dear life at the back of a refrigerated truck (although it is a little overlong). Tuck's battle with one of the spies inside Jack's body is very well done, and the method of killing him is quite innovative too.
One of the funniest scenes is when Tuck alters Jack's face to look like The Cowboy (Robert Picardo), someone who has come to buy the microchip off Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy), the man responsible for stealing the chip in the first place. The special FX for these scenes are pretty amazing, and the look on everyone's faces during these transformations are priceless.
The FX used for inside Jack's body are incredible, and are totally realistic. One of the best scenes is when Tuck is nearly pulled into Jack's heart, and is very nail biting. Another good scene is when Tuck ends up in Lydia's body through a kiss with Jack, and sees his unborn child in her womb. That is a very awe inspiring scene, and is worthy of the same fascination that made Fantastic Voyage great.
I believe this is a criminally underrated film. Admittedly, its a hard film to swallow, with things like altering Jack's face to look like someone else. How exactly could you do that? But this is a Joe Dante film, so you have to suspend disbelief a little. Meg Ryan isn't given enough to do, and its a pity her character couldn't have been given enough development.
There are also a lot of things happening in this film, and not everything is tied up like it should have been. The way Innerspace ends, there could have been a sequel, but so far it hasn't been followed up. With Dennis Quaid's and Meg Ryan's divorce that doesn't seem very likely now.
Still, Quaid has got a brilliant rapport with Short, and some (if not all) of the important matters are resolved. Its an entertaining film, and you find yourself being pulled along for the ride whether you like it or not. After Gremlins, Innerspace is my favourite Joe Dante film.
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