1987 in Film – Innerspace

Release Date: July 3rd
Box Office: $19,816,619

There’s a lot we take for granted in cinema these days and a large part of that is thanks to the improvements in computer effects over the last thirty years. Seriously, just take a look at some of the big summer blockbusters we’ve had recently. The images they can throw around (with the help of several million dollars) are extraordinary.

But we’re used to them. We see them all the time.

At one time such films were an event, like Innerspace (1987).

The concept is certainly high: Dennis Quaid is Tuck Pendleton, an ex-fighter pilot who is now testing a new machine for a group of scientists. He is to be shrank to microscopic size and injected into a rabbit. Problem is that a rogue group wants the technology for themselves and attempt to steal it. This all ends up with Tuck injected into the neurotic Jack played by Martin Short.

Most of the film is a chase, with Jack on the run trying to stay one step ahead of the people after him whilst trying to find someone who can help Tuck.

Tuck meanwhile, is cutting about inside Jack which is where the effects budget for the film really stretches it’s legs.

Tuck’s pod travels around Jack’s body, from the back of his eyes to his stomach. And this is all with practical effects, a masterpiece of matte paintings and models and bluescreen technology. The film more than deserves it’s Oscar as it constructs the interior of the human body in a way that hadn’t been replicated on film before.

It’s hard, of course, for all of this exceptional work not to overshadow the rest of the film. Martin Short does his best spending most of the film acting to a voice in his head whilst Denis Quaid is stuck in a box for the duration. The fact that they build a pretty good dynamic is to their credit.

The rest of the cast aren’t bad, with xxx as a silent Terminator-esque bad guy trying to get Tuck out of Jack by any means he can. Meg Ryan helps out in a pretty under written love interest role.

This doesn’t stop the film from being a good fun chase film. As soon as Tuck lands in Jack the pace doesn’t let up with plenty of stunts and carrying ons. It doesn’t have anything deep to say or anything like that, it’s just there to entertain.

Which it does in spades: a good buddy dynamic at the centre, a romp of a script and stunning special effects. So it makes it a surprise that the film didn’t hit as big as it probably should have. Joe Dante wasn’t exactly on a run of big hits: whilst Gremlins (1984) had been a big hit, his follow up Explorers (1985) didn’t make any where near as much money. So Innerspace, reteaming Dante with Spielberg in his Producers role, on paper looks like a sure fire hit.

Nope. It was a film with good reviews and an okay return, a template that would follow Dante for the rest of his career.

But that’s fine, because he still made good films and Innerspace is one of them. A proper daft hoot of a film with some stunning special effects.

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