Favorite Scene Theater: Innerspace (1987)

In honor of Joe Dante returning to program the New Beverly for a month in August — if you missed it before, don’t miss it again, since these shows are slices of cine-history replete with the players as I duly noted last year — I thought I’d throw down a blast from the Dante/Spielberg 80’s past with a pivotal moment from their final collaboration, INNERSPACE. Written by Jeffrey Boam and Chip Posner, with SCTV genius Martin Short making the most of his starring debut, Dennis Quaid as action hero backup, Meg Ryan as the adorable love interest, and the whole thing plays like a Jerry Lewis Saturday Afternoon Science Fiction Film.  Throw in Kevin McCarthy, Robert Picardo, William Schallert, Kenneth Tobey, Dick Miller, Chuck Jones, (Lewis regular Kathleen Freeman even makes a nifty cameo) and you have a fun, archetypal Joe Dante cast and an even funner movie.

I saw INNERSPACE opening day and had one of the best times ever in a theater; I knew I loved this film when Martin Short gets intoxicated by his miniature captain and starts twistin’ the night away in a perfect amalgamation of Jerry Lewis, Mick Jagger and Short’s infectious goofiness. He not only captures the comedy, but his hero’s journey is heartfelt and believable. I was bummed when the film didn’t take off at the box-office as it deserved to, but chalk up another cult hit for Joe Dante. The humor here is wacky, witty, and I love a lot of the sight gags, especially Picardo’s crazy Cowboy character and his transforming face (the awesome optical and physical spfx by ILM won the Oscar). Special mention must go to Vernon Wells (famous as the mohawked Wez in THE ROAD WARRIOR) as the grinning, metal-listening villain. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is excellent as usual and I’m still waiting for a complete soundtrack release.

INNERSPACE was one of the last gasp of Reagan-era “feel-good” 80’s action adventures, and on that account, the film wholly succeeds. Which is why when I’m feeling disempowered I like to throw this on and chant “Nam myoho renge kyo…”

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13 Responses to “Favorite Scene Theater: Innerspace (1987)”

  1. This kind of makes me sad because it was sort of the beginning of the end of Martin Short’s awesomeness. He was great on SCTV and still on SNL, but not long after this it was pretty much downhill all the way.

    One man’s opinion

  2. christian Says:

    I just don’t think he became a movie star per se and got a chance to do more, though I really like CROSS MY HEART with Annette O’Toole. And his cameos such as in THE BIG PICTURE are spectacular. I’m glad he got his shot in a big action comedy. I hope Dante presents this at the New Beverly…

  3. Martin Short is amazing in Innerspace, which is generally underappreciated. Short coulda gone two ways: obscurity punctured with occasionally witty cameos (he’s also really appealing in the also underrated Mumford) or mainlining his talent into something bland and typical until eventually winding up in compromising Oscar bait (I miss Tom Hanks). I’m sure Short would’ve preferred the latter but I’m kinda glad he wound up the former. (Sadly, there’s no middle ground.)

  4. christian Says:

    I think Short did find a middle ground niche: Broadway and Jimmy Glick. And he also turns up in scene-stealing roles in dreck like FATHER OF THE BRIDE…

  5. Wasn’t thinking about Broadway – point taken.

  6. christian Says:

    But it’s amazing that pretty much every cast member of SCTV got their shot at the big time…I love Joe Flaherty and Andrea Martin’s cameo in INNERSPACE too…Apropos of nothing, Kenneth Tobey has the best line in the film: “Play with it, pal, but don’t talk to it.”

  7. christian Says:

    And it’s time to visit Hell-A for at least one or two Dante shows. You always have a couch here you can crash on.

  8. I will def. take you up on that as soon as I can, I’m tired of reading of these shows from afar (did you see that two-part Dante interview in Auteurs?). But, at the moment I’m afraid that every misplaced dollar causes me trouble.

  9. christian Says:

    I don’t even know what “Auteurs” is…I’ll use the magick of Google. You at least need to be here when he screens THE MOVIE ORGY again as you’ll never see it otherwise…

  10. Is he for sure screening Movie Orgy again? I couldn’t make it last time.

  11. christian Says:

    I have no doubt since it was unarguably the most amazing film shown. With standing ovation. You will be there.

  12. Uh, I’m an idiot, I meant Autueur’s Notebook:

    part one: http://www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/822

    part two: http://www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/816

  13. You will remind me.

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