Friday, 4 February 2011

80s Movies: Innerspace (1987)

Right, I admit I don't have much of a first-hand recollection of the 1980s (I was 5 when the decade ended) but I do have a cetain fondness for the films of the era. What 80s movies really mean to me is my memories of watching the movies that would come on TV or that we owned on VHS in the 90s, and I can't have watched any more often than Innerspace.

Starring Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff, Frequency), Martin Short (Three Amigos, Father of the Bride) and Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle), this peculiar little sci-fi/comedy/action-adventure hybrid was a Christmas tradition in our house for years, always to be accompanied by mince pies and piles of chocolates. It's no wonder I remember it fondly.

It comes with bags of 80s cred too though, in the form of director Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Burbs) and executive producer Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones Trilogy, ET: The Extra Terrestrial).

The Plot

The plot is basically a comedic take on Fantastic Voyage, the 1966 science fiction classic (Innerspace's title is even taken from a line of dialogue in that film). Lieutenant Tuck Pendleton (Quaid) a cocky Naval pilot volunteers to take part in a secret military miniaturisation experiment after his girlfriend Lydia (Ryan) walks out on him.

The experiement is a success, and Tuck is shrunk inside a submarine-like craft, but before he can be injected into a rabbit as intended, the lab is attacked by a criminal gang looking to steal the futuristic technology.

A fleeing scientist then injects Tuck into the body of neurotic store clerk Jack Putter, played by the brilliant Martin Short, and the fun begins.

The criminals have taken a computer chip which is essential to re-enlarge Tuck, and Putter, the nervous wreck with hypocondriac tendencies, is the only one who can save the day before Tuck's oxygen runs out.

Slowly, as he is guided by Tuck via a wince-inducing optic nerve connection, and speakers in his inner-ear, Putter finds some confidence; he recruits Lydia's help, and together they regain the lost chip and return Tuck to normal.

There are plenty of laughs along the way, mainly from Short's over the top performance, and while some of the science in the film is frankly preposterous (moulding Putter's features into those of "the Cowboy" by manipulating facial muscles), that's all part of the joy of it. Innerspace looks very good for the time, and deservedly won the Oscar for Best Special Effects in 1988.


The Jerry Golsdsmith Original Score is available, albeit at a premium price due to its scarcity, but you might better remember the use of Sam Cooke's Cupid, or the 80s-tastic Hypnotize Me by Wang Chung, and a Rod Stewart version of Twistin' the Night Away, which you can get right now from iTunes.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what was the reason Lydia left Tuck? I think cause he had a drinking problem. He did make a fool of himself that night and those men beat him up, or she left him cause she was pregnant and scared to tell him.

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