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Innerspace Blu-ray Review

Innerspace (1987) movie poster Innerspace

Theatrical Release: July 3, 1987 / Running Time: 120 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Joe Dante / Writers: Chip Proser (story & screenplay), Jeffrey Boam (screenplay)

Cast: Dennis Quaid (Lt. Tuck Pendleton), Martin Short (Jack Putter), Meg Ryan (Lydia Maxwell), Kevin McCarthy (Victor Eugene Scrimshaw), Fiona Lewis (Dr. Margaret Canker), Vernon Wells (Mr. Igoe), Robert Picardo (The Cowboy), Wendy Schaal (Wendy), Harold Sylvester (Pete Blanchard), William Schallert (Dr. Greenbush), Henry Gibson (Mr. Wormwood), John Hora (Ozzie Wexler), Mark L. Taylor (Dr. Niles), Orson Bean (Lydia's Editor), Kevin Hooks (Duane), Kathleen Freeman (Dream Lady), Archie Hahn (Messenger), Dick Miller (Cab Driver), Kenneth Tobey (Man in Restroom), Joe Flaherty (Waiting Room Patient), Andrea Martin (Waiting Room Patient)

Buy Innerspace from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Joe Dante thrived in the 1980s as a valued collaborator of Steven Spielberg. The two early Baby Boomers first crossed paths on 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie.
The following year saw the release of their most successful and significant collaboration: Gremlins found the common ground between director Dante's B-movie background and producer Spielberg's taste for bringing the fantastic to contemporary suburban families.

Following that hit horror comedy, the two continued to partner on strange, funny genre tales for the anthology series "Amazing Tales" and a couple of additional movies. First came Innerspace, which opened on Fourth of July weekend two years to the day of Spielberg-produced blockbuster Back to the Future. It bombed, finishing with less money than Future had earned by Day 11. The two filmmakers have only once since reteamed, on 1990's bizarre and underperforming Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Spielberg has remained one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, adding accolades to his unrivaled run of commercial crowd-pleasers. Dante, on the other hand, has struggled to recover from a few major flops, settling for television work and very limited theatrical fare these days.

In "Innerspace", grocery store cashier Jack Putter (Martin Short) has a shrunken man injected in him.

Innerspace opens with underachieving, alcoholic Navy pilot Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) making a scene at what is supposed to be a classy function. His on-and-off girlfriend, reporter Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan), has to escort him home, their conflicted relationship producing an awkward mess the next morning. We then jump ahead two months to find Tuck in Silicon Valley. He has been chosen to pilot a ship that will be miniaturized and sent into the bloodstream of a laboratory rabbit named Bugs. Instead, amidst windy chaos, the shrunken pilot remains in a syringe, which is pursued by a conspiracy of sorts. Men in orange jumpsuits report to an office claiming they are there to repair the telephones, only to spray unconscious those in their way. An assassin with a robotic, weaponized hand takes chase after the scientist possessing the syringe.

Before he is killed, that fast-thinking scientist (played by Dante's frequent cinematographer John Hora) injects the tiny lieutenant into the backside of Jack Putter (Martin Short), a headache-plagued grocer whose doctor has ordered him to take an excitement-free vacation. Jack gets the opposite of that as the vessel transporting Tuck. Jack thinks he's losing it when he hears a voice in his head. Listening to it, he comes to understand the situation and why his life is in danger. Teaming up with Lydia, the two hatch a plan that involves The Cowboy (Robert Picardo), a peculiar foreigner who specializes in selling stolen Western technology to the highest bidder.

Innerspace is not the finest hour for Dante and certainly not for Spielberg. This sci-fi comedy is a little dated and occasionally boring. It's also overly focused on machinery and effects, which is a claim you can easily make against Dante, Guillermo del Toro, Terry Gilliam and other directors referred to as visionaries. Those visual effects did win the film an Oscar over the only other nominee, Predator. Despite its faults, the movie is quite a bit of fun in a far-fetched '80s way. Dante's sci-fi isn't as compelling as his horror, but he is able to establish and sustain an atmosphere of interest and humor.

Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) mans the controls of the miniaturized craft.

For being fast-paced and plot-driven, the movie doesn't do the best job of explaining the plot. Sure, we can separate the good guys from the bad guys and know that the bad ones are looking for the microchips enabling miniaturization. But motives are not clearly established and the plot isn't rendered all that imperative by concerns over Tuck's oxygen supply.

While Innerspace could definitely be stronger on the page, the movie might also have been more fun with a different cast. Top-billed Quaid is one of the few leading actors you could easily call boring. He has the look and sound of a matinee idol, but not the personality of one. Martin Short, on the other hand, is typically a comic dynamo.
Not so much here. He is not allowed to be as funny as he can be. That design raises the question -- why cast Short, already well-established from "SCTV" and "Saturday Night Live" as a funnyman -- in a role that is hardly comedic? It's like casting Steve Coogan to be the straight man to Jackie Chan in Around the World in 80 Days. Why?!

The movie undoubtedly would be better if Short had been given freedom to improvise or had a better script than this one, the second and last theatrical credit of documentarian Chip Proser and the third of nine by Jeffrey Boam, who would soon make his mark on popular cinema with The Lost Boys, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Lethal Weapons 2 and 3. Dante's distinct charm isn't all over this one. Apart from appearances by good luck charms Dick Miller and Picardo plus a cameo by friend Chuck Jones (the legendary Looney Tunes animator), you might not even recognize this as a Joe Dante movie. For that matter, it doesn't feel like an Amblin Entertainment production as much as an '80s movie with some money behind it, like a Short Circuit.

Innerspace has shed its reputation as a flop over time, but it still is far from registering as one of the '80s most beloved multi-genre efforts. The film recently made its Blu-ray debut in a basic but satisfying disc from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Innerspace Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (French, Castilian, Latin American Spanish, Thai), Dolby Mono 1.0 (Portuguese)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Castilian, Chinese, Korean, Latin American Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 / Release Date: August 4, 2015
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Still available as DVD ($14.96 SRP; July 9, 2002), on Amazon Instant Video, and in 4 Film Favorites: Meg Ryan Collection ($14.99 SRP; October 16, 2012) with You've Got Mail, Joe Versus the Volcano, and The Women


At 28 years old, Innerspace is no spring chicken. But that doesn't mean it can't look good on Blu-ray. Apart from light grain, the 1.78:1 widescreen presentation is clean throughout, while offering decent sharpness and a fairly good level of detail. Clearly, the studio has put enough effort into this release to keep viewers satisfied. The default 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is as pleasing. There's a good amount of impact to the mix, which commands your attention on occasion without giving you any reason for concern.

The opening of Innerspace's original theatrical trailer cites the names of its most notable creators. The original poster art that functioned as DVD cover again serves as both cover and menu image for Innerspace's Blu-ray.


Innerspace is joined by two bonus features on Blu-ray.
First and more substantially is an audio commentary by director Joe Dante, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, producer Michael Finnell, and actors Kevin McCarthy and, over his half, Robert Picardo. Recorded in 2001, this flowing discussion addresses everything on screen as it comes up. Full of information, the track touches upon casting, the cast, the title, filming locations and logistics, VFX large and small, and production conditions. Few commentaries are as alive and rewarding as this old one.

In addition, we get Innerspace's original theatrical trailer (1:30, SD), which makes use of score from fellow Amblin production The Goonies.

The static silent menu adapts the retro cover art to fill the 16:9 frame. No inserts are found within the eco-friendly keepcase.

Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan) and foes Margaret Canker (Fiona Lewis) and Eugene Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy) are all surprised by what they see.


Innerspace is basically the 1980s' comedy version of Fantastic Voyage. Despite the talent behind the camera and Martin Short in front of it, this movie ends up being merely pretty good, not great, never entertaining or exciting to the extent you want it to. If you grew up with it, I can see this being a favorite of yours. If you didn't, you should still find it diverting enough, especially if you're fond of the era's fare.

Warner's Blu-ray is void of surprises, but it does provide a satisfying feature presentation plus the DVD's fine audio commentary you wouldn't want to lose.

Buy Innerspace from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Directed by Joe Dante: Runaway Daughters Burying the Ex The Hole | Written by Jeffrey Boam: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Produced by Steven Spielberg: The Goonies Poltergeist Arachnophobia Men in Black
Dennis Quaid: Breaking Away Vantage Point The Parent Trap Soul Surfer | Meg Ryan: Top Gun When Harry Met Sally...
Martin Short: Father of the Bride & Father of the Bride: Part II The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Inherent Vice
Sci-Fi: Fantastic Voyage Galaxy Quest The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The Neighbors: The Complete First Season
New to Blu-ray: Free Willy Blast from the Past Hot Pursuit The Black Stallion
1980s on Blu-ray: Spaceballs Planes, Trains & Automobiles Adventures in Babysitting Good Morning, Vietnam

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Reviewed August 11, 2015.

Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1987 Warner Bros. Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and 2015 Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.