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Innerspace

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 115 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

In a recent survey, DVDnet asked 18 people (okay, we asked our reviewers and my two cats and a tree in my yard) what they would do if they were miniaturised and injected into another person.

Three people responded: “blow shit up with my lasers”
Six people responded: “see what the inside of a testicle looks like”
One person responded: “Attempt to ride a fart out of the anus”
Nine people responded: “Can they really do that?”
Two people responded: “Hey, that’s more than 18 people! What gives? Do we really exist?”

Obviously these results proved inconclusive, so you can disregard them. Instead, let’s talk about InnerSpace, now available on DVD. In fact, this has been out on DVD for a few months now, but I’ve been busy, so just pretend this is a scoop, okay?

In this classic ’80s comedy from director Joe Dante and executive producer Steven Spielberg, Dennis Quaid plays Jack Pendleton, embarrassed and outcast Navy test pilot, who agrees to be miniaturised and injected into a rabbit. Why? Why the Hell not? America can do anything it damn well wants to! Shrink a man and inject him into a rabbit, send a monkey into space, elect a Terminator to government, cross breed women with aliens to create a hybrid race, what’s the difference? It’s all good.

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The whole 'big lips' thing in Hollywood had gone too far this time.

The procedure doesn’t go as planned, when the lab is raided by a rival group after the microchips for their own nefarious plans. In a desperate bid to save the project, the lab head manages to escape and makes it to a neighbouring mall and injects Tuck into the butt of hypochondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short). Jack’s hypochondria kicks into overdrive as first he thinks he’s possessed, but then comes to realise that he has a miniature person inside him with some less than subtle persuasion from Tuck. Enlisting the help of Tuck’s ex-girlfriend Lydia (Meg Ryan), they have to retrieve a microchip from the baddies headed by Victor Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers), avoid getting killed by Mr. Igoe (our own Vernon Wells) and get Tuck out of Jack’s body returning him back to normal size before his oxygen runs out. Oh yeah, and save the miniaturisation technology from falling into the wrong hands while they’re at it. Piece of cake.

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"But I swear, it was THIS BIG last night!"

The film covers a lot of ground, and at 115 minutes it isn’t too compressed, allowing everyone to hit their stride. Quaid is spot on as the burnt out test pilot with a devil-may-care attitude and a wealth of great lines. Short, just off one of my personal faves, The Three Amigos!, is in here for his comedic input, no more no less, and he has the perfect vehicle in the unstable Putter to showcase his manic brand of overacting, with plenty of mugging and flailing arms being at the forefront of his repertoire.

Topped with the super-producer team of Steven Spielberg, Peter Gubers and Jon Peters (whoa, the egos attached to that lot would make for a film in itself) backing Joe Dante, with a score from Jerry Goldsmith, and a heavy reliance on special effects (with help from visual effects supervisor supremo Dennis Muren) which for their time were fantastic (and award winning, picking up an Oscar in ’87 for 'Best Visual Effects'), the mix of comedy, fantasy, science-fiction and buddy-caper pull together for a fantastic ride that er... ‘borrows’ (to put it mildly) heavily from Fantastic Voyage, but adds enough of its own charm to allow it to stand proudly on its own two feet.

  Video
Contract

Squeezing perfectly into your widescreen televisions with its 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced aspect ratio, the "All New Digital Transfer" (as the slick says) is looking pretty good for its vintage (yeah I know it's only 16 years old, but that's a long time in film). It dishes up some nice colours, the brighter carrying plenty of vibrancy even though the picture has a slightly harsh looking ’80s sheen to it. The detail is good in all areas, not quite up to contemporary levels, and suffers from a little softness here and there, but generally it’s very pleasing.

  Audio
Contract

Films like InnerSpace were made for 5.1 channel DVDs, and had it been made more recently it would most probably had featured an aggressively immersive mix. This isn't quite up to that level, but it is effective and satisfying nonetheless.

From the clever opening shot as the camera moves around inside a glass of ice and the sound of pouring liquid briefly emanates from the surrounds, this offers up a promise to effectively use all channels to create a full environment befitting a sci-fi adventure. While it does continue to place effects around the room and create an environment that fits Tuck flitting about inside a human body, it doesn’t quite live up to its full potential. The film boasts a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that carries clear dialogue and a fairly good use of the split rears, but it could have used a bit more oomph in the lower registers as well, as it comes across a bit timidly when it should have had a real presence.

  Extras
Contract

Not much on here, but a great audio commentary from director Joe Dante, producer Michael Finnel, actors Kevin McCarthy and Robert Picardo and visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren more than makes up for a lack of other substantial bonus items. It’s informative, interesting and entertaining, with Dante and Finnel carrying the majority of the load, at times in non-stop chatty mode, cutting in and out of each others comments, covering lots of ground, discussing casting and crew, how the effects were achieved, etc. They have plenty of fun, everyone puts their two cents in and it’s well worth listening to.

The rest is a cast and crew listing (I’ve never really understood why anyone bothers including with no biographical info to accompany them), an award screen for its single Oscar for effects which lists the people involved, and a theatrical trailer that is a rarity in that it tries to give you a fair idea what the film is actually about, rather than just bandy about generic slogans regarding ‘adventure’, ‘excitement’ and ‘things that go bang’.

  Overall  
Contract

Carried by the strengths of an engaging cast and a cool concept revisited, Innerspace is a no-brainer if you want to watch a film one night then watch it again a few days later with the same level of enjoyment.


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      And I quote...
    "This '80s take on Fantastic Voyage is a great refresher to why film can be fun."
    - Vince Carrozza
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