Innerspace (1987) – A Review

Interspace 1987 sci-fi comedy Dennis Quaid
Innerspace

Hotshot pilot Dennis Quaid is on a far out mission!

Or should it be a ‘far in’ mission….hmmm…

Quaid and his space pod get miniaturized to microscopic size for a wild experiment. But through a series of interferences by bad guys he gets injected into the body of hypochondriac grocery store clerk Martin Short! Whoa this wild!

While trying to accept he’s got a miniaturized pod floating around in him and Quaid’s voice in his head, Short has to avoid bad guys that are after this outrageous tech. Plus, the bad guys are now in possession of a vital microchip that is needed to get Quaid back to normal size. And time is running out! Quaid’s air supply will only last for so long, so with the help of Quaid’s girlfriend Meg Ryan, Short has to avoid the bad guys and retrieve that microchip or else the miniaturized Quaid is doomed!

Innerspace 1987 Martin Short Henry GibsonI remember seeing Innerspace when it first came out in 1987 and really enjoying it. It was a fun summer movie (something that’s a rarity nowadays!) It had a fun concept, Speielberg’s name was attached to it and it was directed by Joe Dante who had been behind Explorers and Gremlins, two movies me and my friends really liked. This was an update of sorts to the miniaturized classic Fantastic Voyage, with a lot of comedy thrown in.

Rewatching it today it holds up pretty well. Short is amusing. He was always funny on Saturday Night Live and SCTV, but as for his films…..eh. He can be good in supporting roles, but as for the movies he headlined in…..I always thought he was better in smaller supporting roles. Innerspace was one of his better films he was a part of.

Quaid has always been a likable actor, but somehow he never managed to reach that A-list status. He always seemed like he was a second, third or fourth choice for a part. Like Short, his film resume is very dotty. A lot of really good movies and good performances are surrounded by a lot of lousy flicks. At this time he was just coming off The Big Easy, probably the biggest movie in his career that looked like it would launch him into that A List.

Innerspace 1987 sci-fi comedy Joe Dante special effectsIn Innerspace he’s very good as the macho pilot. His career momentum would lose steam after a string of disappointing movies that followed this and he just never recovered from it. Quaid would get a few modest hits down the road and be part of some big-budget high profile movies, but he would never be a big draw.

If you look at his list of movies on IMDB they’re just all over the place. My friend used to say about Quaid – “If he’s in a movie the odds are it will not be very good and it won’t make a lot of money. It’s one of those guaranteed movie rules.” Innerspace was one of the exceptions to the ‘Quaid Rule’ and it is actually entertaining.

As Short runs around trying to get back the all-important microchip from the bad guys he gets into dangerous situations. Quaid has to egg his new pal on and do whatever he can to lend a microscopic hand. And no there are no duplicates of that microchip. That’s the one and only chip that will ensure Quaid’s survival. Kind of silly they would make one of those things, but eh, the characters need some kind of additional challenge here.

I was somewhat surprised at how well the special effects hold up in this. All the inside the body spaceship stuff looks just as cool as I remembered. It does a convincing job that we are watching a miniaturized Quaid floating around in Short’s bloodstream or snagging a drink from booze being poured down Short’s throat. Really neat stuff.

Innerspace 1987 sci-fi comedy Meg Ryan cute youngThings get a bit too weird for me in the third act when Quaid is able to change Short’s facial appearance. That whole portion with Short looking like Robert Picardo’s Cowboy, going undercover to retrieve the vital microchip starts to get too much for my taste. I could go along with quite a few outlandish things up to that point, but when that hits it makes me narrow my eyes. It’s not awful, but it’s something a bit out-of-left-field. I would have been happier if more of the time spent on all that went to more of Quaid navigating around Short’s insides.

Dante includes a lot of familiar faces strewn throughout the movie. He’s well-known for filling his casts with actors who are personal favorites of his. I had completely forgotten the great Kevin McCarthy was in this! I always thought it was neat Chuck Jones had a bit part as customer in the grocery store too.

This was a real early movie for Meg Ryan. She looks good too! She’s much more spunky in this than when she became crowned with that wholesome America’s sweetheart movie persona a few years later. Oh and Vernon Wells makes a fun cartoony heavy with his interchangeable hand. It’s silly, but it works.

It’s an entertaining movie. Some of the comedy doesn’t quite work and things get goofy after awhile, but if you’re ok with that no worries. The miniaturized stuff is great and it makes for an enjoyable silly adventure.


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4 Responses

  1. I co run a degree course in 3D/CGI animation and we still show Innerspace (or at least clips) when we talk about depictions of the inner body in Sci-Fi (alongside films like Fantastic Voyage) because it's SFX still hold up well. Yeah, the film is pretty goofy at times but it still holds up well. It also has great '80's' style performances by Martin Short and Meg Ryan too. Oh and have you seen the classy Polish poster for Innerspace? 🙂

    https://meansheets.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/polish_26x38_innerspace-poster-pagowski.jpg

    Thanks for the great reviews and films. I think we share a very similar cinematic universe.

    • Whoa that poster is really funky! They would never try to do something like that in the U.S.!

    • Yeah its a world of poster design thats a bit alien to the US and the UK. Its also pre Photoshop and the 90's 'three heads cut out' style of poster making. I think we tend to forget how really important poster are as part of the film experience. Artist's like Drew Struzan, John Alvin, and Renato Casaro dominated my childhood with their painted poster art. In some cases the posters made me imagine a film that was better than the one I actually went to see. Although I'm not sure what I would have imagined looking at that Polish poster?

  2. Megan says:

    I like this movie. Quaid was just 32 at the time which is weird cause at that time I was just 2 so I did not remember this movie however later on I had the VHS then later on I got the DVD . Its enjoyable to watch even with the commentary makes it fun . a cute Dennis Quaid at the time. a silly Martin Short and a pretty Meg Ryan.

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