1999’s Inspector Gadget, and its Hugely Underappreciated Gag

There's an end credits gag in Inspector Gadget that's up there with much of what Marvel offers you once the film's over...

Lots of people don’t like the Inspector Gadget movie. Released in 1999, Disney certainly had high hopes for it, earmarking it as a key blockbuster for that year. Tellingly, though, Rupert Everett would describe the film as “the $100 million mess” in his memoir, Red Carpets And Other Banana Skins.

He went further. Talking about the elongated days of shooting on the movie, he wrote that “behind the scenes lurked a panel of executives, each with their own theory and agenda. A string of writers had written version after version, each adding to our scripts on a different-colored paper, each one losing the plot a little bit more, so that by the end, or rather the beginning, they had managed between them to render the thing utterly meaningless.”

He wasn’t a fan. In fact, when it was released, few were. The film just about clawed back its production budget by the time home video takings were factored in, but the 78 minute film is rarely spoken of. The film’s original running time wasn’t that short. It was just hacked down from 110 minutes after the first test screenings went a bit, well, nuclear.

And yet, rewatching it, I do get a sense that there’s a faint pulse if you look closely enough. There’s a fun callback to Godzilla (that Gadget star Matthew Broderick has featured in the year before), for instance, in the midst of a Disney family movie, and that’s always a good start. But then there’s also a gag in the end credits that I missed first time around, which warrants at the very least a hearty round of applause.

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After we’ve had – spoilers! – the happy Disney ending, involving fireworks and a go-go gadget kiss, we get a little scene that reveals what happened to the minion of Rupert Everett’s Dr. Claw. In this case, said minion – Sykes – is played by Michael G Hagerty, is sent to ‘Minion Recovery Group’, a support group of sorts for minions of unsuccessful villains.

This is where the fun kicks in. For just see who the film managed to assemble…

Yep, on the front row alone you’ve got Mr. T and the late Richard Kiel – Jaws from the James Bond movies! – front and center. Dotted around you’ll find, amongst others, the film’s tips of the hat to Oddjob, Kato from Green Hornet, and Kato from The Pink Panther movies too. And just look at our hunchbacked chum in the middle of the second row!

How, then, did Disney get around this? Surely it would have cost a lot of money to assemble characters from other franchises just for a quick gag at the end of a movie?

A quick look at the end credits reveals the answer….

Yep, doing it that way around certainly saves a few bucks.

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There are, I should note, elements of the film where less of a shift was put in. Most notably, a bus sequence where, well, somebody forgot to put the background in. We like to call this here the ‘driving through heaven’ effect (in the film’s weak defense, this is in a dream sequence)…

Here’s the outside of the bus that needs saving…

And, er, here’s the inside…

A further piece of trivia to help you win whatever pub quiz this question comes up in: director David Kellogg, who hasn’t helmed a feature since (he does some solid work in Inspector Gadget, to his credit), had previously made Cool As Ice (starring Vanilla Ice), 11 Playboy videos (debuted with, er, Farmer’s Daughters) and the 1994 television movie, Lusty Liaisons II. These credits were not deemed worthy of being included in the movie marketing.

Inspector Gadget was heavily promoted, to the point where it did enough to warrant a recast straight to DVD sequel four years later (French Stewart took over from Matthew Broderick). It had umpteen uncredited writers, no queue of fans, and little to remember it by. But in the most unlikely of places, sometimes you find a really good gag – and a logistically taxing one – that you really weren’t expecting…

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