Tooncrap #28 - Inspector Gadget 2

No, Gadget! No!
Disney: 2003

Written by: Raymond Gallant

Live action adaptations of animated shows are a dime a dozen nowadays. All you need is a nostalgic franchise to leech off of, some terrible pop music, bad CGI, and actors at the death stage of their careers, or just need a quick buck. The concept of live action cartoons really started in the late 90's when Disney was doing it with everything from Mr. Magoo to George of the Jungle.

But the worst offender was the 1999 cyber-crapfest known as Inspector Gadget. The ultimate example that the people who buy these licenses have never bothered to watch a single episode of the series before putting it to screen. Let's see, we have a cartoon where Don Adams plays an Inspector Clouseau-esque detective named Inspector Gadget who takes on a shadowy being named Doctor Claw, who has his face and body obscured. However, Gadget is a bumbling idiot who always thinks his Dog is an Agent for MAD, so it's up to Gadget's niece Penny to solve the crimes.

What does the Disney movie give us? Matthew Broderick as everyday shlub John Brown who becomes Inspector Gadget by accident when stopping Stanford Scolex, and crushing Scolex's hand in the process. Oh, and did I mention that Dr. Claw's face is always seen because it's Rupert Everett just for the purpose of one piss poor Madonna joke? So Gadget has to stop an evil Gadget made by the newly coined Claw and his assistant Andy Dick, all while we're reminded to use the Yahoo search engine? Oh, and Penny doesn't actually solve the crimes, but eats Skittles and other delicious Mars candies while D.L Hughley breaks the fourth wall telling us that this is a Disney movie?

Oh, and add in a bunch of piss and testicle crushing jokes while we're at it.

So, someone at Disney thought we needed a sequel to that, despite the critical disgust. But then again, it worked. All the nostalgia of the classic cartoon, the McDonald's tie-in with all the parts of Inspector Gadget. Everything worked to help make this movie over 134 million dollars worldwide.

Considering this time around the movie is direct-to-video, at least the blow won't be too bad. But it's still the most dreaded of all things in creation, a Disney cheapquel. So, clearly Matthew Broderick isn't on board. With that in case then who's playing Gadget?

*Groans* Not French Stewart...

Yes, we've gone from Ferris Bueller to Harry Solomon. Though honestly, that's a far better casting call. Though seriously, why is he always squinting? It's not even that bright.

Let's see if Inspector Gadget 2 does worse than the original, or can some how go go gadget repair a lot of it. Let's review this thing.

We open the movie with Inspector Gadget on a stakeout, and despite nothing ever happening in Riverton, he still suspects that evil's afoot. And he appears to be correct, as he spots an innocent old lady driving down the road, and believes that she's clearly up to no good. He's also flanked by Brain (who may or may not be the same dog from the first film) and his still annoying gadgetmobile (voiced by the only person who came back for the sequel, D.L Hugely).

But it also appears that Gadget is still suffering from glitches, and can't seem to ever get the gadget he needs to fight crime. Maybe he could get Brenda from the first film to do something about... Oh that's right. Brenda's not in this movie, or mentioned at all. The freaking love interest from the film just erased from history because I guess it doesn't fit with the obvious plot of this one. Gadget eventually stops the old lady, and goes to handcuff her, but those wacky gadgets of his just don't want to work.

Gadget brings in the dangerous drag racing perpetrator to jail and is greeted by Penny, who is clearly not Michelle Trachtenberg. Which now that I think of it, considering Michelle was freaking Harriet the Spy, the fact that they barely had Penny do anything in the first movie, where the whole crux of the series is that its Penny who solves the crime and saves the day, just makes things more idiotic in hindsight. But holy crap, this Penny actually wants to solve crimes, despite Gadget clearly telling her not to because its too dangerous, and all those cliches.

Gadget goes to Baxter to find out what's wrong with his gadgets, and... wait. Who the hell is Baxter? Well he pretty much plays the role that Brenda does in the first film, only clearly without giving Gadget a Go Go Gadget Boner. Despite Gadget's clear issues with his arsenal, Baxter merely just writes it off as "you're the prototype gadget, there's bound to be some glitches". That feels like the equivalent of telling someone with a staph infection that it's just something unimportant. Just take a few Z-packs and you'll be right as rain.

Baxter vaguely tells Gadget that something is being worked on that will definitely get rid of those glitches for good. Gadget is blissfully unaware that clearly this means they're replacing him, when Chief Quimby arrives to chew out Gadget for arresting his mother. Turns out that Gadget is way too good of a cop, arresting old women for driving .3 miles past the speed limit, and arresting girl scouts for slightly out of date cookie selling. Gadget's big excuse for these petty arrests is that there are no real crimes in Riverton., which means it's clearly the perfect cue for...


It turns out that Doctor Claw has escaped... oh wait, it's just "Claw", I forgot. That whole stupid "one word, like Madonna" quote.

Also, Claw's covering his face in this one because they sure as hell weren't getting Rupert Everett to come back. That or Claw really got f'ed up bad in prison. Though how anything bad could happen to a guy with a claw hand is beyond me. Either way, it's one film too late, but at least his face is hidden. He also has a raspier voice because reasons.

Claw is also obviously broke, and is hiding out in an abandoned bowling equipment factory. But he plans to "claw" his way back as it were by pulling off the crime of the century, which entails robbing the federal reserve. Because Riverton is coincidentally the safest city in America, the United States entrusted them with keeping a trillion dollars safe. His plan is to build a weapon that requires getting a ruby, a protoid laser, ion cells, a satellite in the right position in ten days. He also forgot that he has to pass into the room of the ancient warriors, place himself the right armor, and enter the shrine of the silver monkey!

With Riverton in peril of not being the safest town anymore, and their current Gadget being a bumbling squinty dope, the police force and the mayor unveil G2, a female variation who is all robot, and all business. And Gadget is immediately infatuated with her. I guess despite being born a human, this isn't some weird robot fetish type thing.

To show how well G2 is compared to the original, Chief Quimby tells Gadget to hid stolen money on him. And she proves to be effective in tying him up. Though in his mind this could be leading to some sort of "Fifty Shades of Gadget" situation. With the far more useful Gadget now functional, Chief Quimby puts her on the claw case, while Gadget is stuck doing meaningless jobs instead.

But Gadget has no real issue with losing the Claw case, since he is... well... an idiot. While this all went down, Penny found out a clue about what Claw is up to... by looking in the paper and seeing a want ad for evil minions. I guess Claw never thought about any undercover cops being interested because you know, logic is hard. And of course, Gadget thinks nothing of it until she pretty much tells him to go. Penny still insists to help, but he says that she still can't go despite clearly not knowing what he's doing, like ever.

Disguised as a squinty Jacques Cousteau, Gadget heads to the meeting point, while Penny sneaks in from the back. She sees that Claw has earned himself some minions in a hunter, a punk, and a ninja, because all good evil teams need ninjas. Gadget however is not having any luck in finding Doctor Claw. But his literal greasing of the bartender's palms causes a bar brawl and everyone beating the go go gadget crud out of him. Eventually G2 arrives to save his metallic skin.

Gadget tries to get himself with G2, who despite her steely expression, doesn't outright hate him, but still thinks he's a burden to the case, and would rather work alone. Penny gets found out for her sneakery, but she still managed to find out where Claw is planning his heist. Chief Quimby tells Gadget to stay 100 yards from the case, or he'll be fired.

But Gadget takes that literally, and heads to the stakeout, and remains 100 yards behind. And despite staking things out, he'd rather be checking G2 out. Gadgetmobile gives him the advice of showing her what it takes, which is kind of foolish because let's be honest, he'll only make things worse. Meanwhile, Claw's henchmen arrive in a crab truck because, how damn obvious can you get?

Gadget thinks G2 needs help beating the minions, but she ends up dispatching them with little to no effort whatsoever. Before she can apprehend them, Gadget uses his plunger gun thing to get down, and bumps into her, tying them both up (seriously, I think Gadget's into bondage), and causes them to get away.

Since Gadget Go Go Gadget bungled up yet again, Chief Quimby gives him the arduous task of cleaning the toilets at the police station. Seriously, stop giving him anything, he'll just screw it up because that's become obvious. And lo and behold, he screws that up too. Claw is pleased at Gadget's demotion, and continues his plan. Since they stole the ion first, next up is the laser. A particular one that's being unveiled at the science convention.

And of course, he sends an invitation for Gadget. Penny realizes it's a trap. Penny suggests helping, but he still says no. But, of course, she still shows up. And of course, since this is a science convention, every single person there is wearing glasses because every scientist clearly does.

To keep Gadget distracted, Claw has two of his cronies dressed up as Gadget's biggest fans. They're of course loud, obnoxious and dorky.

And yet they're still more tolerable than Corporal Capeman.

This whole thing was a ploy to plant a bug on Gadget that will make him Claw's personal puppet.

And if you thought the product placement was bad in the first film, we get some quick shilling of McDonald's. Also no person in their right mind would ever consider McDonald's food "Brain Food". More like "colon clogging food".

Now puppeted by Claw, he's unable to control himself even worse than ever as we see he's not even able to enjoy his delicious McDonald's french fries. He squirts mustard over everyone, and is stuck in a dance. Still a more tolerable dance scene with McDonald's involved than in Mac and Me.

Penny sends Brain to stop the henchmen from stealing the laser, but only gets a shoe. Meanwhile Gadget shoots the mayor with toothpaste, and contorts his body into the Mickey Mouse logo. Why he has a toothpaste gun in the first place really makes no sense. Penny realizes that since the cronie was wearing a bowling shoe, that it may be a major clue.

For his condiment condemnation, Gadget is fired from the police force. Despite his evidence that he was clearly being controlled by Claw, it doesn't matter as Chief Quimby just wants him gone. And to be fair, I don't blame him. He really is that inept. He takes it well enough to search for another job that he would clearly bungle. Penny shows him the shoe she found, and despite wanting to help, he won't let her, mainly because he won't do anything because he's fired, and because he doesn't believe in her. Which is kinda dickish because, let's face it, if there's anyone in that family that's actually a competent inspector it's Penny.

She feels like crap for being ignored, but Brain quickly changes her tune, and the two actually try to solve the case, while we get a montage of how horrible Gadget is at pretty much any other form of employment, and Claw's cronies continue their theft. She manages to find the old bowling equipment company that the villains are hiding out in.

Claw needs a fifty thousand karat ruby, and there just so happens to be one at the museum, and there also just so happens to be a fundraiser going on. And Gadget just so happens to be there as a greeter. Claw arrives, and reveals his big plan to steal the ruby is by using a bowling pin filled with laughing gas to immobilize everyone long enough to just take the big Ruby. He even thought ahead and counted on G2 being there, and you know, being a robot and all, so she's not affected by gas of any nature. Claw's prepared with that, as he brought a big cartoon magnet, as he leaves with the ruby.

Hey, just six more, and he can become Super Claw.

They return to their hideout just as Penny realizes what the big plan is. She gets found out, and eventually caught, but Brain manages to escape. Due to the failure of G2, the mayor shuts down the gadget program, and G2 is to be deactivated. This causes her to cry, despite, you know, being a machine. Gadget tries to help, but she still acquiesces to her fate.

Feeling she's been wronged, Gadget decides to reactivate her anyway. He says he has a great deal of respect for her, though mostly because let's be honest, she raises his antenna. Brain shows up to warn the two of Penny's fate, and the two gadgets can't understand them. They use a dog voice changer device that Baxter was making earlier in the science convention, and they get it to work, and he tells them that Claw kidnapped Penny, and all the other plans. He realizes that hey, maybe he should be listening to his niece, especially when, you know, she's right on the money about the whole Claw thing. So now the two Gadgets join forces to take down Claw.

Claw and his cronies are in the right spot and time to activate their laser with the satellite in the right position. Also, the laser is shaped like a bowling pin because I guess it's a running gag. The laser is activated, and hits the satellite. This causes everything in Riverton to just freeze in place for some reason. The gadgetmobile still manages to escape outside the city limits. With the town frozen, Claw's gang just waltz into the reserve with nobody able to stop them.

Gadget and G2 arrive to try and stop him. Claw threatens to crush Penny's head as he escapes. He leaves his minions to stop them. G2 tries to stop them, and Gadget is still a glitchy mess. They trade chips (which with her getting his glitches, is that kind of like a robot version of STD's?), and suddenly he's more competent, and vice versa. He chases after Claw's truck, while in some of the worst looking CGI and green screening of all time. Yeah, I know this is a cheapquel and all, but wowsers.

Turns out that G2 can at least get the glitches to work in her favor, and easily bests the minions. Just goes to show how terrible Gadget really is then. Meanwhile, he gives chases on his Gadget scooter, and eventually gets to the roof of the truck. Claw throws Penny out of the truck in a cart filled with bombs... and bowling pins, because we get it.

He decides to go to her while he gets away. He apologizes for his ignorance as the timer ticks. We don't even do the whole red or blue wire shtick, as he just gets her out, as they escape right before the whole thing explodes. But sadly, Gadget and Penny are dead.

Oh of course they're not. G2 is relieved by this, and hugs Gadget, as I guess she now has feelings and everything. Now that the gang's all here, they all give chase to Claw's truck. Both gadgets get in front, as Claw intends to run them over. Gadget's big plan is to use his bubble gum gun, which causes them to bounce back and forth and eventually get them caught. However, Claw escapes in his rocket, vowing to get Gadget next time, in the sequel that this never ever got.

With Claw escaped, they focus on ending the frozen town. They easily reverse everything, and the town is back to normal. And so with everything saved, both Gadget and G2 are rewarded with medals and their jobs back. And so the film ends with Gadget finally admitting that Penny deserves the credit, and gives her her own medal, while the gadgetmobile gets a ticket. It's because he's voiced by a black guy, isn't it? Also the two gadgets kiss for the big happy ending.

And that's Inspector Gadget 2. And while it's bad in a lot of ways, from the acting, to the effects, and the overall story, I'm gonna admit something. I don't think this was anywhere near as bad as the original movie. The reason? This feels more true to the show than the original film did. Gadget is played as a more bumbling agent, Penny's role is more integral to the plot, Claw is depicted as a shadowy figure complete with henchmen that aren't Andy Dick, and overall it feels closest to something you'd get from the show.

But at the end of the day it's a cheap-quel, and the effects get really bad, with some really horrible CGI even for 2003 standards. While I bemoan French Stewart and his squintyness, I do think he does okay enough as Gadget, but has nowhere near the charm that the original Don Adams character has. G2 is interesting for a love interest, but I gotta admit the movie just erasing the Brenda character from the first feels a bit stupid.

In the end, it's Tooncrap, it's one of many bad live action adaptations of an animated property, but comparing to what came before it, this one is miles better. It has better tools, but still is pretty faulty. Faulty enough for Tooncrap.