Film: Inspector Gadget

The Greatest Hero Ever Assembled

"This is just RoboCop for kids, isn't it."

Inspector Gadget (1999) is a Live-Action Adaptation of the namesake animated series from Walt Disney Pictures, directed by David Kellogg and starring Matthew Broderick, Michelle Trachtenberg, Joely Fisher and Rupert Everett.

The movie opens with an origin story for the titular hero (Broderick). Originally a human security guard named John Brown, he dreams of one day being a respected police officer, though he is continually rejected due to his lack of experience. He also has designs on Brenda Bradford, a scientist that works at the cybernetics lab he's employed for. After the lab creates a prototype for a computer chip that can control lifelike robotic limbs, Brown's life changes as Corrupt Corporate Executive Sanford Scolex (Everett) breaks into the lab, kills Brenda's father, and makes off with the prototype foot. When Brown pursues him, the resulting car chase ends with Scolex blowing up his car and leaving him with extensive tissue damage. In the aftermath, Scolex's right hand is crushed, leading to him dubbing himself "Claw." As for Brown, Brenda decides to make him the prototype for the "Gadget Program" and repairs his damaged body by converting him into a cyborg with numerous odd and zany functions. Now dubbed "Inspector Gadget," he realizes his dream of joining the police force - though his generally goofy and awkward nature and lack of control over his new hardware makes him something of a walking disaster area. Meanwhile, Scolex still has designs on the technology that created him, as he plans to use it to build an unstoppable robot army to take over the world...

While the film was pummeled by critics and fans of the original show alike, it was successful enough for Disney to produce a direct-to-video sequel, Inspector Gadget 2 (2003), though none of the original cast returned.

The film provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Happens a few times to Gadget.
  • Adaptation Expansion: We actually learn both Gadget and Claw's real names and backstories, with the story of how they got their robotic add-ons taking up the better part of the first act.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Granted, the original cartoon never really gave origin stories for Inspector Gadget and Dr. Claw to begin with, but this film chose to make John Brown's conversion into a cyborg have a connection with Sandford Scolex's hand getting crushed and having it replaced with a robotic claw. John Brown is injured in an accident caused by Scolex, who ends up getting his hand crushed because he opens the roof to his car while a bowling ball from Brown's car flies towards him. Yet another thing to note is that Brown was rebuilt as a cyborg as part of the Gadget Project and Scolex's interest in using the technology for his own ends was what caused Brown's accident in the first place.
  • Adapted Out: Dr. Claw was the leader of an international crime syndicate known as M.A.D. in the cartoon, but his evil organization is nowhere to be seen in either movie. Instead, he is aided by a thug named Sykes and a Mad Scientist named Kramer in the first film and in the second film is aided by two goons named Brick and McKibble and later hires the assistance of Squint, Jungle Bob, and the Ninja.
  • Affably Evil: Claw.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Robo-Gadget.
  • Alliterative Name: Sanford Scolex.
  • Alternate Continuity: It is clearly not canon to the original cartoon because of the huge amount of differences from the source material.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Robo-Gadget apparently has gone berserk in the downtown Riverton area... reports indicate that he has already caused a major traffic accident, destroyed private property, and set fire to an elderly man's beard."
  • Artificial Limbs: Interestingly, in the film, Gadget takes some time to get used to them and even comments "it doesn't feel like me."
    • Also Dr. Claw's, well, claw.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Lampshaded by Claw when he has Gadget at his mercy:
    Claw: COMPRENDE!?
    Gadget: Yeah. I comprende.
    Claw: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I comprendo. Yo comprendo. Conjugate the verb, for pity's sake! Pull out his NSA chip before he butchers another language.
  • Ash Face
  • Aside Glance: Gadget reacting to his own bad pun.
    Gadget (to Robo-Gadget's disembodied head): You should've quit while you were ahead.
  • Author Appeal: The bizarrely hyper quick cuts and odd Big Lipped Alligator interludes seem to be a favorite of David Kellogg.
  • Badass Grandma: Chief Quimby's mother after her wrongful arrest for reckless driving at the start of 2. Gadget and Quimby (who came to pick her up) bear witness to her badassery as she clobbers a few punks in her cell.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The Blue Monkey.
  • Berserk Button: Mayor Wilson and Chief Quimby press Gadget's Berserk Button when he learns that G2 is to be deactivated. Fortunately for them, this Berserk Button doesn't see Gadget take his anger out on them; rather, it merely revitalizes his sense of justice and gives him new motivation to redeem himself by capturing Claw by rescuing G2 and the Gadgetmobile, taking a lead from Brain, and foiling Claw's Evil Plan with the help of Penny, who they rescued from Claw's grip after a long chase. As Gadget himself puts it after G2 tells him there's nothing he can do to help her:
    Gadget: Nothing I can do? Or is there?
  • Better Than New: Brown was originally human. Then his body was busted and he was remade into a Super Soldier.
  • Big Damn Heroes
  • Bolivian Army Ending: At the end of 2, a gag scene occurs when a rocket accidentally deployed by Gadget as he made out with G2 lands in front of Chief Quimby and Mayor Wilson. They panic for a while, then realize it was a false alarm. They were wrong. "GAAADGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!!!!"
  • Break Them by Talking: "Have a cocktail! Don't you know bad robots have more fun?"
  • Brainless Beauty: Robo-Brenda.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Gadgetmobile tells Gadget to buckle up, because "It's a Disney movie!"
    • There's also the scene where Claw tells Gadget that he's been watching too many Saturday morning cartoons... and then looks directly into the camera, followed by Gadget doing the same thing, and then Kramer leans into the shot for no other purpose than to look into the camera as well.
  • California Doubling: Pittsburgh, PA in the first and Brisbane, Australia in the second; both for Ohio. Still, the use of Pittsburgh is at least justified—PPG Place is Dr. Claw's castle.
  • Call Back: "Our relationship is strictly professional."
  • The Cameo: A post-credits gag has Mook #1 Sikes attending Minions Anonymous, where other attendees include "Hat Throwing Minion," "Minion Who Identifies Seafaring Aircraft," "Minion with Metallic Teeth," and Mr T.
  • Car Fu
  • Check Please
  • The Cheerleader: For some reason, Robo-Brenda is this.
  • Chekhov's Gun: when Robot-gadget is first activated, a close-up of him shows a tarantula in a plastic sphere in his body. During his fight with Inspector Gadget, he unleashes this tarantula as a weapon.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Coincidentally while Claw is screaming about eating brownies... and waffles.
  • Chubby Chaser: Brenda implies that she was one: she tells Scolex that "she liked him better fat."
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Brenda Bradford is not mentioned in the sequel.
  • Cool Car: The Gadgetmobile. it can talk, it has booster rockets and a skittles compartment.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Scolex/Claw.
  • Covered in Gunge: Used so much (toothpaste, gum, batter), you wonder if it's a private Fetish Fuel on the part of a producer/director.
  • Crashing Dreams
  • Creative Closing Credits: That's one thing the second film does better than the first film.
  • Credits Gag: A few.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: Gadget gets one in the sequel, and assumes the writer used this trope because he had terrible handwriting.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Double subverted. Claw does plan on selling the gadget technology so anyone with enough money can have an army of obedient Super Soldiers but decided to send the first to terrorize the city 'and have some fun'.
  • Damsel in Distress: Brenda in the final act of the first film and Penny in the final act of the second film.
  • Darker and Edgier: At least one person gets killed and another critically injured in a series of violent acts that set the plot in motion. Is there any wonder why the MPAA rated the first film PG? (Aside from the accidental language, namely, "obtaining the balls", and other innuendo, of course.)
  • Demoted to Extra: Penny in the first film; despite being the true hero of the original series and frequent appearances throughout the movie, she rarely plays a part in the main plot of the film until the actual climax, with most of the screentime going exclusively to Gadget, his love interest, or Dr. Claw. This is averted in the second film, however.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits sequence in the original and the sequel.
  • Detachable Lower Half: G2.
  • Detachment Combat: G2.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Claw.
  • Distaff Counterpart: G2.
  • Dream Sue: At the beginning of the movie, Gadget imagines himself as a super cop. Apparently this happens regularly, as pointed out by Penny.
  • Dynamic Entry
  • Emergency Transformation
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Claw's reveal.
  • Enormous Engine: The jet engine deployed by the Gadgetmobile.
    Gadgetmobile: Better buckle up, Penny. This car's got only two speeds. 'Fast' and 'Whoo! What was that?'
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Quimby in the sequel actually tries to argue with Mayor Wilson when she orders the Gadget Program discontinued in a fit of rage after G2 failed to stop Claw's latest crime in front of her, and when breaking the news to G2, he actually sounds as though he doesn't like the idea.
  • Evil Knockoff: Robo-Gadget.
  • Evil Plan: The first one is about acquring Gadget Technology so he can sell it on the black market and acquring his crush. The second is revenge.
  • Exact Words: Gadget uses this tactic a couple of times while going undercover. It backfires on him the second time. Also, the "100 yards" business. Gadgetmobile himself falls victim to this with the word "citation".
  • For the Evulz: In revealing his evil plan, Claw seems quite eager to see the raw chaos that would be unleashed through his robotic warriors upon selling them to the highest bidders; Aside from exacting revenge on Gadget for the loss of his hand, he has no other deeply personal motivations for his crimes.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Brenda and her father.
  • Genre Savvy
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Double Entendre is the preferred choice.
    • In the sequel, Gadget talks about how he and G2 can be partners. He can be Good Gadget and she can be Bad Gadget.
    • "She certainly is well-equipped, isn't she?"
    • Later Gadget and G2 exchange chips. Gadget protests briefly: "But G2, you might get the glitches!"
    • "Hey, I have heat sensors. I know what you were thinking when she gave you that smile..."
    • The first film is one of few PG-rated movies to refer to testicles using a vulgar term, albeit accidentally—the guru was pointing to metal balls on the floor in front of him when he mentioned "obtaining the balls", but Gadget grabs his balls accidentally instead. The MPAA still rated the film for language because of it.
    • When the newly operated on John Brown lands on top of Brenda Bradford, she starts talking about how all this was new to him, and he nods sheepishly in agreement. Brenda means having John having the added parts now and being Inspector Gadget, of course. However, given the position they are in, could John be assuming that Brenda meant, well, what two adults usually do in that position- and that he has not done it yet?
  • Glad I Thought of It
  • Groin Attack: John Brown AKA Inspector Gadget mistakenly does this to the guru while trying to train his new cybernetic body (he was blindfolded for some reason), after the guru tells him to focus on "obtaining the balls" — as in the metal balls on the floor.
    Chief Quimby: Well, I guess six million dollars doesn't buy what it used to.
    Brenda: Excuse me.
    [As hospital workers put the guru in an ambulance, with an ice pack on his crotch]
    Guru: He is not a man, you know. He is a monster!
  • Heart Symbol: Appears on Gadget's hat in both films.
  • Heroes Want Redheads
  • Hollywood Nerd: Gadget, Brenda.
  • Hook Hand: Dr. Claw.
    • "No no, just... Claw... one word. Like Madonna".
    • "Too bad Hook's already taken, huh?"
      • Also Hook was in a Disney Movie.
  • Hot Scientist: Brenda.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Inspector Gadget's robotic clone Robo-Gadget does this to scare a child that mistakes him for the real Gadget.
  • I Can See My House from Here
  • Idea Bulb
  • Imagine Spot: Done with thought balloons in the first. Deliberately Monochrome in the sequel.
  • I'm Going to Disney World: Used by Claw and Gadgetmobile.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Robo-Gadget, who isn't so much impersonating a police officer as he is downright smearing the police officer's good name by committing all sorts of crimes–and takes it so far that Chief Quimby would've arrested the real Gadget had Penny and Sikes not revealed that detail about Claw's Evil Plan.
  • In Name Only: Some names are shared, and Gadget has bionic implants. Otherwise, it bears not a shred of resemblance to the original.
  • Inspector Oblivious: Most notably when he unwittingly helps two escaped convicts break into a Dodge Viper in the first film.
  • Instant Expert
  • Insult Backfire: Claw, when told he looked better fat.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Gadget would like to say something heroic like 'in the name of justice' to activate his gadget abilities. Brenda says he could (thus fullfilling this trope) but it wouldn't activate the gadget abilities.
  • I Work Alone: Gadget resists Penny's help. G2 quotes the trope verbatim. TWICE.
    • Gadgetmobile says this in the first one... before promptly working with Gadget to stop some car thieves.
  • "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music
  • Jerkass: Chief Quimby, but only in the sequel. In the main film, he's more Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: After Gadget brings up the point that the department NEEDS him while defending his job after "assisting" G2 at the stakeout, Quimby acknowledges that very fact to him... right before assigning him to toilet duty.
  • Jumped at the Call
  • Karma Houdini: Averted in the first film, when Claw gets arrested and according to one novelization gets a life sentence handed down on him. Played straight in the sequel, when Gadget, G2, and Penny merely run him out of town. Both instances incorporate a variation of Claw's catchphrase, "I'll get you next time, Gadget! NEXT TIME!"
  • Kick the Dog
  • Kid Detective: Penny in the sequel, despite her uncle's objections.
  • Killed Off for Real: Artemus Bradford.
  • Large Ham: Rupert Everett as Claw, so very much.
    • And Robo-Gadget. Who knew Matthew Broderick could be such a wonderful Large Ham?
  • Let's Get Dangerous
  • Live-Action Adaptation
  • Logo Joke: The Walt Disney Pictures castle is completely mechanical at the beginning of both films; in addition, the arc of light that draws itself behiind said castle is replaced by the top half of a cog.
  • Losing Your Head
  • Meaningful Name: A Scolex is the front end of a tapeworm.
  • Mad Scientist
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Wilson in 2, as seen in a deleted scene where she flat-out states that she'll have G2 deactivated if Claw's next crime succeeds if that's what it takes to ensure her re-election.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Sikes.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop
  • Mood Whiplash
  • Mooks: Sikes and Kramer.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Gadgetmobile lets Gadget know the two men he helped break into a Dodge Viper (because he thought they had locked themselves out) were actually jailbreakers, he says, "Wait a minute!" before he and the Gadgetmobile go after them.
    • In the sequel, Gadget gets a Heel Realization when he learns that Penny really was more competent than he had anticipated and that she had willingly risked herself to further his investigation of Dr. Claw after Brain tells him via translator that Penny had gotten kidnapped by Claw.
    Gadget: Penny was right... I should have listened to her.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast
  • Nice Hat: Dr. Claw's hat in the second film.
  • Noodle Implements: Part of the rebuilding sequence involves a wheelbarrow of garden hoses.
    • Where do you think the toothpaste comes from? Now, the Slinkies and mousetraps on the other hand...
  • Noodle Incident: Gadget mentions taking dance lessons at one point, but he's forced into some fancy footwork when Robo-Gadget fires at his feet before he can elaborate any further.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Penny's science teacher, as revealed in a deleted scene. He was certainly embarrassed when Penny busted him for stealing ice cream from the cafeteria, but he promised to let the principal know he was responsible right away, telling his students to concentrate on their studies as he left the classroom.
  • Offhand Backhand
  • Off with His Head!: Claw to Kramer when ordering him to remove Gadget's chip (though he gives him points for at least locating the chip before fainting):
    Claw: Do it, or you'll be building yourself a new head.
  • Oil Slick: Toothpaste, actually.
  • Only One Name: "Just Claw. One word. Like Madonna."
  • Opera Gloves: One alternate hand for Dr. Claw made by Kramer is based on this. Supposedly its because Claw likes going to operas. We never see it again.
  • Overprotective Uncle: Gadget goes to great pains to keep Penny away from detective work in the sequel.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: During the climax, Gadget manages to thwart Claw's escape by throwing a pen into the latter's helecopter, hitting his claw hand and forcing it shut, crushing the chopper's control stick.
  • The Power of Friendship: When Penny reaches out to Sikes near the end, prompting his Heel-Face Turn.
  • The Power of Love: Gadget is brought back to 'life' with a kiss.
  • Product Placement: YAHOOOOOO-OOO! That's right, Disney actually used the Yahoo yodel as the billboard falls on the limousine near the start of the film!
    • The Gadgetmobile also dispenses Skittles and Coke products.
    • McDonald's is in both, actually. It's more prominent in the 2nd though.
  • Reality Ensues: Brown asks the Police Chief Quimby when he'll be put on the big case in the first film. The chief assures him he has something for him to "cut [his] teeth on". Cut to a newspaper montage of Brown being a crossing guard and helping the sanitation department. Remember, Brown is a security guard who was rejected from the police academy early in the film, and is markedly incompetent even after being upgraded. In fact, it's the central joke of the character.
  • Research, Inc.: Bradford Labs
  • Retractable Appendages: Gadget retracts his head into his body to duck a punch in the face in Inspector Gadget 2.
  • Revenge: Inadvertent when presented onscreen, inverted when Gadget and Claw bring up that particular incident that "made" them:
    Gadget: I owe you one, Scolex. You blew up me and my Chevette. And I really liked that car!
    Claw: Well, you crushed my hand, and I really liked that hand. So Go Go Get over it.
  • Right-Hand Cat
  • Robot Girl:
    • G2
    • Robo-Brenda..!
  • Robot Names
  • Rollerblade Good
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In a deleted scene from 2 Penny says she doesn't care that Gadget doesn't take her seriously as a detective as long as he has a sense of justice, which Claw obviously doesn't. When Claw tempts her to his side after capturing her, she basically tells him to go fuck himself (but not in those words, thankfully).
  • Shotgun Dance: "You know how to dance, don't you?"
  • Shout-Out:
    • The knob for the helmet voltage goes up to 11, along with several to the original show.
    • Godzilla; when Robo-gadget is rampaging through the City, he imitates Godzilla with his shadow. The scene also had a Japanese man running away from Robo-gadget, while screaming that this is why he left Tokyo.
    • Minion Kramer's hair is reminiscent of another Kramer.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Among other things, Gadget's hat-based rocket launcher, which blows up a car when Brenda arouses him; his head, when Brenda shows up to the gala; and his foot-based rocket launcher, in the final pre-closing credits scene. Also his hat when he first sees G2.
  • Spanner in the Works: Gadget, after Mayor Wilson and Chief Quimby press his Berserk Button (deactivating G2), which he directs toward capturing Claw and redeeming himself, and he and G2 find out that Claw had pressed his other Berserk Button (kidnapping Penny). Claw does NOT see Gadget, G2, and Penny coming when the former two rescue the latter and the three work together to stop his Evil Plan and run him out of Riverton.
  • Super Cop
  • Swirlie: Gadget gives himself one through sheer clumsiness.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: Claw can take off his mechanical pincher-hand and replace it with cosmetic ones for different occasions. None are practical and Claw only uses one of them once.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: The Gadgetmobile
  • Television Geography
  • Theme Tune Cameo
  • Time Stands Still: Claw's evil plan in the sequel.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Robo-Brenda, so much so that she actually flips herself off the roof of a skyscraper.
    • Also Gadget himself in the sequel; it's a miracle he can survive toilet duty! In fact, it's even more of a miracle he can successfully explain away how he put a hole in a wall separating the bathroom from the main lobby.
  • Translator Collar: Which they for some reason forgot about and had to re-invent for the second film.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Sikes' minion support group seen during the credits.
  • Turn in Your Badge: In the sequel, after Gadget causes a scene at the science convention. Of course, it wasn't his fault, seeing that Claw's minions, disguised as nerds, stuck a tiny device to him so Claw could use his remote control on him to wreak havoc at the convention. Gadget shows the evidence to Quimby as a last resort, but does Quimby give a shit? No, no he does not.
    • Of course, seeing that he was off the force at the time Mayor Wilson shut off the Gadget program to save face (as revealed in a deleted scene) after G2 got curb-stomped by Claw, Gadget himself got off easy compared to G2 (who got deactivated), which led to him being able to rescue G2 from possible recycling.
  • Verbal Tic: In the sequel, Gadget gets this, spouting a Catch Phrase nearly every five seconds, particularly "wowsers".
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Gadget is basically an experimental cyborg.
  • We Can Rule Together: Robo-Gadget to the real Gadget in the first film, Claw to Penny in the sequel.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Claw was captured, Sikes went to rehab... so what happened to Kramer?
  • Wicked Cultured: Claw.
  • A Wizard Did It: There are some continuity snarls, like the helmet on Sikes is fastened, suddenly is undone, and then is fastened again in 3 consecutive shots.
  • Worst Aid: In an early trailer for the first live-action film, he codes during the transformation surgery. What do they do to revive him? Administer the most scientifically-proven medical treatment known to man: The Miraculous Bitchslap of Life.
  • You're Insane!: Brenda say this to Claw near the end of the film. He calmly agrees.
  • You Have Failed Me: Mayor Wilson orders G2 deactivated after her embarrassing failure to stop Claw from stealing the ruby.
  • You Killed My Father: Quoted during the climax:
    Claw: "So what's new?"
    Brenda: "Hel-LO, you killed my father!"
  • You Look Familiar: Matthew Broderick and Dabney Coleman previously worked together in WarGames.