Film / Innerspace

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/innerspace-poster_9538.jpg

Tuck: Jack, excuse me, but I want you to factor this into your thinking, alright? ... If you don't help me, you're going to wind up with this miniaturized submersible pod floating around your insides with this teeny tiny human skeleton at the helm.
Jack: Ugh.
Tuck: Not a pretty thought!

A 1987 sci-fi comedy starring Dennis Quaid, Martin Short and Meg Ryan. Rather surprisingly not the huge hit it was anticipated to become at the time, it has since attained to cult classic status as one of the quintessential 80's popcorn flicks.

Quaid plays Tuck Pendleton, a Navy pilot assigned to pilot an experimental submersible that is to be shrunk down and injected into a rabbit. Unfortunately, bad guys after the shrinking technology break into the lab, and one of the scientists, escaping with the syringe containing the shrunken sub with Pendleton in it, is forced to inject Pendleton into unwitting Safeway clerk Jack Putter.

Then things get weird. (Well, weirder.)

The film was directed by Joe Dante, produced by Steven Spielberg and features special effects by Rob Bottin, which might help give you an idea of what you're in for.

Not to be confused with cult classic PC game Operation: Inner Space or the long closed Disneyland ride Adventure Thru Inner Space.

This film provides examples of:

  • The '80s
  • Action Survivor: Jack, to a "T."
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Jack, again. A rare male example, and in the most literal sense possible. Tuck literally stimulates Jack's adrenal gland!
  • Agony of the Feet: Tuck hurts his foot on the cab door and jumps around in pain.
  • Alice Allusion: The "Eat me. Drink me." metaphor. Or was it from The Exorcist?
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Tuck has a very limited supply of oxygen, so Jack must get him (and the chips) back to the lab before it runs out. A Race Against the Clock begins.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Igoe's taste in music tells much about him. When he drives the meat truck the music he listens to is Slayer's "Angel of Death".
  • And Mission Control Rejoiced: Everyone at the lab is cheering when Tuck emerges from the minisub at the end.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the film, a newly-empowered Jack sees the Cowboy disguised as Tuck and Lydia's limo driver (with Scrimshaw and Dr. Canker hidden in the trunk, but Jack doesn't know it) and chases after them.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The whole plot revolves around retrieving the one-of-a-kind miniaturization/re-enlargement chips. Both projects have entire, working installations devoted to the miniaturization process, but for some reason even the villainous rivals need exactly the same chips as the government-funded laboratory.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Using robot arms to place the chips. Lampshaded when an impatient scientist grabs the chip from the robot and puts it in manually (he do gets a jolt because of it, though).
  • Big Bad: Victor Scrimshaw.
  • Billions of Buttons: Vector-Scope labs features panels with lots of blinking lights.
  • Blinded by the Light: Tuck when the doctor shines an instrument in Jack's ear.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Congratulations, Jack. You just digested the bad guy." Jack then burps.
  • Brick Joke: "Who's the Cowboy?!" — "That's, er, classified."
  • Brownface: Robert Picardo as The Cowboy. It helped that Picardo himself is of Italian heritage.
  • Catch Phrase: "The Tuck Pendleton machine, zero defects."
  • Character Development: Jack grows from a nerdy, cowardly hypochondriac to a man with a zest for adventure over the course of the movie.
  • Chase Scene: One early on involving a scientist on a bicycle, another one later involving Tuck's Mustang chasing the refrigerated truck where Jack was held captive.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Lydia's taser becomes plot-relevant a second time when Scrimshaw's blond mook touches it and goes out.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Spinners' song "Cupid".
    • Jack's allergy to hairspray.
  • Cigarette Burns: The Cowboy puts his cigar out in his hand when a stewardess reminds him that it was a non-smoking flight.
  • Computer Voice: The computer aboard the minisub.
  • Cool Ship: Tuck's minisub, reminiscent of the Discovery's space pods, and armed with an amazing array of gadgets and sensors. It even recognized Jack's human physiology immediately and auto-mapped it despite having been programmed to go into a rabbit.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Tuck gives a minor Rousing Speech to Jack when the latter is trapped in a refrigerator truck by Scrimshaw and Mr. Igoe. It works a little too well, or, at least, a little too early — the truck is still moving!
  • Deadpan Snarker: The lady with orange hair delivers some pretty deadpan remarks at the checkout.
    (The register displays $18,748.15) - "Gee, that's kind of pricey for shampoo, ain't it?"
    (Seeing her grocery totaling to $128,658.54) - "Is that with or without the coupons?" and "Listen sweety, I don't carry that kind of cash around with me."
  • Delayed Reaction: At the end when they try to re-enlarge the minisub, nothing happens for a couple of seconds after the countdown has ceases. Then the reaction kicks in big time.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The Cowboy seemed oddly... excited when Jack aggressively bursts into his hotel room while he's in his underwear. He even excitedly exclaims "Big Jack!"
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: There are two chips at different places that Jack has to find before he can bring Tuck back.
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: Igoe pulls this trick when his miniaturized pod is damaged beyond repair. In the style of an Implacable Man he ejects himself out of it and continues attacking the hero wearing a gadget-loaded space suit.
  • The Dragon: Mr Igoe.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Jack's dream about the old lady with a (cigarette lighter) gun and the high prices of her groceries.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Tuck, a washed-out Naval Aviator, was already an alcoholic before Lydia dumped him, then he got worse. Although he claims to have sobered up before the miniaturization project, it's obvious to his coworkers that he's off the wagon (and also to the audience, judging by all the bottles he keeps stashed away in odd places in his apartment).
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: San Francisco's Transamerica Tower is visible in the background outside Tuck's home.
  • Enhance Button: Downplayed. The photo camera Igoe confiscates at the mall provides close-up shots of Jack's name tag in pristine resolution.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Cowboy, master of industrial espionage, counterfeit, smuggling, and snakeskin clothing.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Tuck has a very limited supply of oxygen, so Jack must get him (and the chips) back to the lab before it runs out.
  • Explosive Decompression: What would happen to the minisub if the cockpit were breached, which is why Tuck can't just gof to the lungs to resupply his oxygen tanks.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: When Jack's VHS catches fire, the panels in Tuck's minisub start to do the same and both characters have to use a fire extinguisher to take care of the situation.
  • Fainting: Scrimshaw's blond mook keeps passing out amidst too much excitement.
  • Fanservice: For the ladies and others, a long glimpse at Dennis Quaid's bare ass.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Self-explanatory. The effects are still awesome enough to be a deep well of Squick for some viewers.
  • Feet-First Introduction:
    • The first we see of the Cowboy is a close-up on his posh leather boots.
    • Igoe is introduced by showing his black Conspicuous Gloves on the steering wheel of his car.
  • Forced Perspective: After Scrimshaw and Canker are shrunk 50%, there are a few scenes where they are seen with full-size actors. These shots were filmed using forced perspective. For the car scene, the rear of the car is actually twice as large as a normal car rear, and was about 20 feet away. During the scene half size hands and double-size heads were used. Using this method, the film makers didn't have to worry about compositing two separate shots in post production, so the shots could be completed quicker. Even in the final scene with the suitcase, the case was twice as large, but the hand that closes it was real, closer to the camera in sync with the closing.
  • For Science!: What the original government project was intended for. The rival lab, on the other hand, has more lucrative goals in mind.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Jack gets slapped as he is having a psychotic breakdown behind the cash register.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Did they really show Igoe attaching a vibrator to his Swiss Army Appendage before getting private with Margaret? The camera angle certainly was ambiguous enough for the scene to pass the censors. The scene was cut on TV versions though.
  • Glasses Pull: Pete Blanchard pulls off his glasses in the car when learning that Tuck is the pilot of the secret project.
  • Gun Struggle: Jack fights with the delivery man over a gun. A Groin Attack decides the situation in Jack's favor.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Mr. Igoe puts on his Walkman as he drives the truck Jack is imprisoned in. Naturally, he never even realizes he's involved in a Chase Scene.
  • Hearing Voices: Justified. Tuck communicates with his host via an electronic linkup in Jack's ear, and naturally Jack initially thinks he is insane when he hears Tuck's voice inside his head.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Tuck's "friend" and government money man Pete Blanchard is quite the ruthless S.O.B. early in the film, willing to sacrifice Tuck's life to ensure the survival of Dr. Niles' project, but then randomly at the end turns up to personally chauffeur Jack back to Niles' lab to save Tuck.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Scientist Ozzie Wexler dies via a gunshot to the back whilst injecting Tuck into Jack.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Early on, the scientist with the syringe steals a bike to get away from Igoe.
  • Hollywood Acid: Jack's stomach — especially what it does to Mr. Igoe in the final battle. (Thanks a whole lot, Rob Bottin.)
  • Hot Scientist: Margret Canker, and how.
  • Hot Scoop: Lydia.
  • Ill Boy: Jack believes he is one of this. As it happens, he's the ultimate hypochondriac, to the point he might really give himself a heart-attack by stressing out over having a heart-attack.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: After being shot, Ozzie uses the last of his strength to inject nearby passer-by Jack with the syringe containing the miniaturized submersible.
  • Implacable Man: Mr. Igoe redefines the trope.
  • Improbably Cool Car: Tuck's pristine red Mustang convertible.
  • Instant Sedation: The baddies sedate the personnel at Vector-Scope with a knockout gas that takes them out in a single second.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lydia, Tuck's girlfriend.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: The baddies disguise as cable guys when breaking into Vector-Scope labs.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tuck. Pompous and alcoholic but if you need him he can help you and give you good advices.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Jack is trapped in a meat truck at freezing temperature.
  • Love Triangle: More or less. Jack is attracted to Lydia who still loves Tuck but has some minor affection for Jack, as evidenced by still wanting to kiss Jack after Jack asks Tuck to shut down and the lingering glance at Jack before she gets in the limo at her wedding.
  • Mad Scientist:
  • Magic Feather: Jack, when he thinks Tuck is still inside him and feeding him doses of adrenaline, rescues Lydia bravely.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Thanks to the little guy inside you who can stimulate your facial nerves just so. (Real reason: because every Joe Dante movie needs a Transformation Sequence, that's why.)
  • Male Gaze: Twice does Tuck call Jack out for inappropriately looking down on Lydia.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everybody in the room craps their pans when Jack!Cowboy undergoes his facial deformation sequence.
  • May–December Romance: Implied with Wendy and Dr. Greenbush after Jack ditches her.
  • Meaningful Echo: Early on, Tuck hurts his toe on the cab door prompting Lydia to comment "Better your toe than your heart". Later when Tuck wants Lydia to believe he is inside Jack, her echoes that line when saying "But it was my heart that was broken, and not my toe."
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: The villain couple getting miniaturized.
  • Mirror Monologue: Tuck is having one right before going onto his mission.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: The miniaturization process is described as "breaking an object down to its component particles to 'compile' a microscopic version of the object". The first part would be called "destructive uploading", and is actually being seriously researched both for machines and people (there are ethical concerns for people, as even if you can perfectly reconstruct the human, it's still essentially murder by perfect body disposal, but it's a secret government project doing it meaning Screw the Rules, I Make Them!). But if they can "compile" Tuck as a human the size of an amoeba while retaining his intelligence, then they have a computer chip that makes the NSA's best stuff as of today look like an abacus. You'd need that kind of processing power to upload stuff, but that's civilization-changing technology. And they're using it, with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup, on a rabbit, as a precursor to fitting people with sensory-jacking surveillance equipment. Reed Richards Is Useless.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: This film is fairly soft SF.
  • Multitasked Conversation: Confusing talk in the hospital, when Tuck (inside Jack) tries to talk to Jack who believes some patients are talking to him.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Thanks to Joe Dante, DP Andrew Lazlo, and the late Jerry Goldsmith, a glass full of ice (which Tuck will end up drinking from) becomes a mysterious background for the film's title card.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Lydia, who keeps it from Tuck. The thing is, when he found out (in the weirdest way possible, mind you), he was crying Tears of Joy. Referenced again at the end when Tuck's first words to Lydia after being returned to normal were, "Why didn't you tell me?"
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Canker.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lydia accidentally taking Jack out with her Stun Gun.
  • Noodle Incident: Something must have happened between Ozzie Wexler and Dr. Canker.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The chips. Lampshaded. They're one-of-a-kind, nobody can replicate them or their technology (at least not before Tuck's oxygen runs out), and nobody made backups in case they were lost or damaged.
  • Oh Crap!: Tuck can be heard saying "Uh oh" when Jack is caught posing as the Cowboy.
  • Only in It for the Money: It's Scrimshaw's sole motivation in all this.
  • Pair the Spares: Wendy and Dr Greenbush share a longing glance at the end.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Scrimshaw and Dr. Canker, after getting shrunk down to midget size.
  • Poke the Poodle: Igoe pops a balloon because he's EVIL!
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Scrimshaw's line "Nuclear weapons, everyone's got em, no ones got the balls to use them".
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Tuck: Okay, pal... here's how I spell 'relief'!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Lydia's line "Let. Him. Go." while pointing a gun at the baddies in their lab.
  • Race Against the Clock: To rescue Tuck, who is Almost Out of Oxygen.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Project leader Dr. David Niles is rather likable and understanding for a gub'mint scientist.
  • Reveal Shot:
    • The opening credits occur over weird, shifting, oddly coloured shots which suggest a bizarre, alien world, in keeping with the film's plot. Then, the camera pulls back...to reveal we've been watching ice cubes swirling around a glass of whiskey.
    • When we first see Martin Short's doctor's office, its a closeup of some palm trees. But then the camera zooms out to reveal its simply a poster.
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Jack, becoming the Unlikely Hero of the story by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Jack performs one at Tuck's place after getting drunk.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction: Tuck is running out of air in his pod and needs to get out of Jack's body soon or he'll die. Currently he is in Jack's lungs, but can't get to a handy orifice in time. Somebody remembers that a human sneeze travels at roughly 300 miles per hour - leading Jack to induce a sneeze by huffing hairspray, as he was diagnosed with an allergy to same at the beginning of the movie.
  • Shape Shifter Swan Song: Jack's face goes through several gruesome stages of deformation once the facial reconstruction mechanism goes haywire.
  • Shirtless Scene: A fanservice scene when Dennis Quaid chases after Lydia outside his house with only a towel around his waist.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: After Tuck's pod is injected into Jack, he starts trying to figure out what's going on while Jack is ringing up items at his job. His attempts screw with the scanner, causing the items to ring up at hundreds of dollars each.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Alice in Wonderland. Though why anyone would set up the miniaturization/re-enlargement process selection screen that way is anyone's guess.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey, in the aforementioned design of the pod. And the... unusual way Tuck meets his child for the first time.
    • There's plenty of Looney Tunes references, including a cameo by Chuck Jones in the grocery store scene.
    • At one point, Jack attempts to comfort himself by turning on Scrabble.
  • Silent Whisper: What did the Cowboy whisper in Lydia's ear that make her frown in disgust?
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Jack Putter's dysfunctional love interest Wendy idly remarks on the irony of her sleeping with just about everyone he knows except him when he's the one guy she might actually like. At the end, after he's taken a level in badass and she tentatively suggests they start dating ("Jack, I think we should try dating. Maybe not exclusively at first, at least for me, but... "), he brushes her aside with a quick "not a chance" before moving on to his next adventure.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: Igoe blows his Finger Gun out after shooting the lab scientist at the mall.
  • Something Only They Would Say: The way Jack convinces Lydia that Tuck really is miniaturized.
    Jack: (repeating Tuck) "I don't blame you for walking out on me that morning. But it was my heart that was broken, not my toe."
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Jack's position in the beginning. He quits after deciding he prefers a life of adventure and intrigue.
  • Staring Kid: There's one when Mr. Igoe shoots Ozzie with his gun hand.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Jack is strapped to an OP table before getting Igoe injected into.
  • Stun Guns: Lydia tries to use one on Mr. Igoe. It backfires horribly.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: The assassin Mr. Igoe is missing his right hand, and has it replaced with a system of different swappable false hands, ranging from an ordinary cosmetic hand, to one with a pointing finger that is actually a gun, to a drill-hand.
  • Tactful Translation: When Jack first tells the lab that Tuck is inside him, they start asking Tuck questions, which he can hear. But, of course, Jack has to repeat Tuck's responses. One lab guy assures Tuck that they will get him out and Tuck replies "You better, you two faced son of a..." and Jack repeats "He says thank you."
  • Techno Babble: The miniaturization process in the film is depicted as breaking up a macroscale object into its component molecules to "compile" a microscopic version of that object. The loss of so much of the objects mass is presumably the reason why Niles described the re-enlargement process as "tricky" and why two chips are used - one on the pod, one on the miniaturizer - as they can serve as a guide for exactly how to rebuild the object. So they're using a variation of Encom's scanning laser.
  • Tempting Fate: Margaret's line "Don't worry. They won't know how to close it [the lid of the miniaturation chamber]." right before the heroes manage to do just that.
  • There Are No Police: When Ozzie is running from Igoe in the mall, he is not looking for a security guard or yelling for help or going into a store and telling them to call 911. This would be an obvious Real Life course of action to take - however the trope is necessary to get Tuck injected into Jack.
  • ˇThree Amigos!: Tuck, Jack, and Lydia, in a sense. Fitting that Martin Short is one of them.
  • To Absent Friends: "We're going to make a toast to Ozzie, who saved my ass by injecting me into yours."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jack, oh so amazingly. So much so, that he rejects his old life at the end of the film in favor of rushing to help Tuck on his honeymoon against (presumably) "The Cowboy".
    Jack: JACK PUTTER TO THE RESCUE!
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Despite 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, forming a huge maze that goes through the heart every minute, Tuck manages to make his way around a human body pretty quick - ear, eye, abdomen, stomach, mouth. Zip-zip-zip. Truth in Television in that human blood makes that trip every minute. Tuck's just along for the ride.
  • Trunk Shot: At the end, we get a look upon the Cowboy from Victor and Margaret's POV in the trunk of the car.
  • Unlikely Hero: Jack, being the Right Man in the Wrong Place.
  • Vanity License Plate: Igoe's BMW ("SNAPON")note  and Scrimshaw's Rolls-Royce ("SUB-ZRO").
  • The Voice: Tuck is this from Jack's perspective.
  • The Voiceless: Igoe never says a word in the entire film. Unless you count, "Arrrrrggggh!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • By the end of the movie, all of the sensors Tuck implanted on Jack's body (and Mr. Igoe's damaged pod and Mr. Igoe's remains) are still in there. Doesn't seem to bother anyone.
    • What happened to the scientists who were in the miniaturization chamber with Scrimshaw and Canker?
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: The miniaturization process at the government lab spins Tuck's minisub at absurdly high rates before breaking it down and shrinking it. It's a wonder Tuck's stomach didn't object.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/InnerSpace