|Inspector Gadget 2|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 11 March 2003|
Inspector Gadget is one of the most well-known cartoon characters in the world. Created in 1983 and surviving only two years on his initial run, Inspector Gadget, the bumbling bionic police detective aided by his niece Penny and her dog Brain, has nevertheless maintained a solid visibility quotient for young viewers. Spin-off series, as well as a cartoon movie, have been filmed about the character. “Inspector Gadget 2” is Walt Disney’s second attempt to make the series a viable live-action success as well as cartoon hit. Comedian Don Adams, arguably best known for his equally bumbling portrayal of Agent Maxwell Smart on the hit television show, “Get Smart”, first gave voice to the bionic detective who keeps a plethora of devices concealed in his hat and trench coat. Disney’s first live-action actor to step into that well-worn trench coat was Matthew Broderick in the original Inspector Gadget movie. French Stewart, decidedly nutty and quirky in his own portrayal of Gadget, hails from the successful TV sit-com “Third Rock From The Sun.” “Inspector Gadget 2” continues the zany adventures of the bumbling detective as he attempts to foil crimes committed in Riverton.
Chapter 1 opens up with Gadget on stakeout behind a billboard welcoming visitors to the city on behalf of Mayor Wilson. He’s looking for speeders and spots an old lady doing 25.3 in a 25 mph zone. Of course, Gadget being Gadget, the bumbling inspector sets off in pursuit at once with his overstated zeal. The viewer is also made aware of the glitches that plague the bionic hero. The computer graphic effects of Gadget’s arsenal of special tools and weapons, including those on the Gadgetmobile, are truly awesome and extremely well rendered. The jet engine sound of the Gadgetmobile thunders through the subwoofer and flares through the surround sound, moving through the front and back speakers. Back at police headquarters, Gadget checks in with the lab. He wants the glitches fixed. Professor Baxter tells him that a solution is in the works. Then Gadget finds out that the little old lady he arrested for speeding is the chief’s mom. While they’re down getting the chief’s mom out of jail, the chief tells Gadget to stick to fighting real crime. Gadget protests that all the real criminals are locked up in Riverton Prison. The quick scene at the end of Chapter 1 shows a dark and stormy night over the prison, and a claw thrusting up from the wet earth outside the prison grounds. Thunder explodes from the subwoofer, then rolls through the front and back speakers.
In Chapter 2, Gadget gets a late-night phone call that tells him Dr. Claw has escaped from the prison. At the prison, Gadget quickly discovers how Claw escaped. The scene shifts to Dr. Claw’s hideout, a bowling factory that has been shut down for decades. Darts whistle through the air, through the front speakers, and land in a picture of Gadget. Dr. Claw quickly outlines his evil plan for robbing the Federal Reserve Bank in Riverton. Mayor Wilson takes center stage later in Chapter 2. In attendance at the media briefing, Gadget watches as a female Gadget 2 is unveiled. She’s completely robotic, and Gadget is smitten at once. Music explodes from the subwoofer as Gadget 2 steps onto center stage. Gadget 2’s gadgets are even more impressive and reliable than Inspector Gadget’s. The chief immediately assigns Gadget 2 to the Dr. Claw case. Gadget protests, but is yanked from the case all the same.
In Chapter 3, Gadget attempts to make a desert for Penny, who is trying desperately to get into police work. The scene quickly turns to one of hilarity, guaranteed to send the smaller viewers into gales of laughter. The whir of Gadget’s runaway mixer shrills through the surround sound.
Later, Gadget enters the Blue Monkey bar in disguise. Basso bar music slams through the subwoofer and the front speakers as Gadget steps into the building. Due to Gadget’s bumbling ineptitude, a bar fight quickly ensues. Meanwhile, Dr. Claw assembles his evil minions. Gadget, overcome by the bar’s patrons, has his block knocked off repeatedly, sending his head flying upwards with each impact that rings through the subwoofer. Kids will enjoy that special effect immensely, and it’s a tribute to the computer graphics team that the scene looks completely believable. Gadget 2 arrives and quickly quells the bar fight.
Chapter 4 opens with the slamming of a police paddy wagon’s doors. Gadget’s infatuation with Gadget 2 continues, including a display of a band of blue hearts that cycle his hat. Gadgetmobile encourages Gadget to demonstrate to Gadget 2 that he’s “all good under the hood” in spite of his glitches. The fight that breaks out in the warehouse during the robbery is replete with explosive impacts that hammer the subwoofer and shoot through the front and back speakers. Gadget’s attempt to help Gadget 2 ends up with them both getting trapped and Dr. Claw’s minions getting away.
Things in Gadget’s life take a decidedly disastrous turn for the worse in Chapter 5 as Gadget is reprimanded for his part in the botched stakeout. The sequence involving Gadget’s toilet-cleaning escapades is downright hilarious for adults as well as the younger viewer. Later in the chapter, Gadget himself becomes a diversion as Dr. Claw’s minions turn his bionicnature against him to make their getaway.
The rest of “Inspector Gadget 2” plays out pretty predictably, but the computer graphics and French Stewart’s acting abilities put some sizzle in the familiar story of the bumbling hero who finally gets on top of his game in time to foil the bad guy. The script by Ron Anderson, William Robertson and Alex Zamm really makes the most of the character and the situations that rise up.
The disc comes with several extras. “Illustrated Gadget” is too basic to bring anything to the party for the viewer, and even younger audiences might be easily bored. “Gadget Training Simulator” is also somewhat lacking for kids that are used to Game Boy Advance and even larger game systems they can play on their televisions. “The Gadgets Behind Gadget’s Gadgets” is fun, but offers little in the way of new special effects tech for long-time viewers of DVD extras on movies, emphasizing special effects. The snippets of interviews with the cast and crew made those pieces more interesting. The deleted scenes are interesting and add a dimension to the overall story that isn’t necessary but are fun to watch. The outtakes are terrific and show that the cast and crew had an absolute blast with shooting the film. Likewise, the audio commentary by the director and the cast further reveals that the movie was a labor of love and everyone involved came to work with the heart of a child. The music video by Rose Falcon is fun and uplifting.
“Inspector Gadget 2” is a great family movie, as the film was intended to be. Filled with fun and wacky gadgets, adults and young viewers will be rewarded by French Stewart’s spot-on off-the-wall portrayal of one of the most viewer-friendly cartoon characters ever invented. And most of those viewers, adults and kids, will wish they had just half of the gadgets the bumbling inspector has in his arsenal. The scooter-shoe alone would be a hoot. If Matthew Broderick’s portrayal of Gadget didn’t quite fit the bill the first time up, know that Disney has returned to the roots of the cartoon shoe for their second outing, and they have gotten everything just as it should be in Riverton.