A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Inspector Gadget 2 is the 2003 sequel to Inspector Gadget that stars French Stewart as the beloved 1980s cartoon detective. Similar to the cartoon, Gadget tends to have malfunctions with the arsenal contained inside of him, which leads to frequent moments of cartoonish and slapstick violence. Also, there is some consumerism, as Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's products are prominently featured in scenes. In addition, the Gadgetmobile (voiced by D.L. Hughley) seems to exist solely to toss in the most cliched and stereotypical of African-American slang terms at times when it would be "comedic" to do so. In spite of these issues, overall this version of Inspector Gadget, if a bit dated and certainly not a masterpiece, is essentially pure entertainment for entertainment's sake -- something both kids new to the world of Inspector Gadget and parents who grew up on the cartoon will enjoy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Inspector Gadget (French Stewart) is running out of things to do now that his arch-nemesis Claw is in jail and Riverton has been declared the "safest city." His boredom doesn't last long after Claw breaks out of jail and schemes to rob the Federal Reserve of its millions. As this is happening, Chief Quimby, tired of Gadget's constant malfunctions and overzealous policing, unveils Gadget 2 (Elaine Hendrix), who appears to be more capable of fighting crime in every way as compared to the original Gadget. As Gadget is thrown out of the police force after Claw's minions sabotage his circuitry, it's up to Penny and her faithful dog Brain to figure out and try to stop Claw's wicked plans, as Inspector Gadget must prove that he is still a worthy detective while teaming up with Gadget 2 to try and stop Claw.
Is it any good?
INSPECTOR GADGET 2 is not without its good points. There's enough slapstick and silliness to keep kids entertained, and for parents who grew up on the cartoon, the movie adheres to the original characters and tropes that made this mainstay of '80s childhood enjoyable in the first place. French Stewart is clearly having some fun in the role of Gadget, and somehow manages to add a bit of depth to the character as Gadget faces the difficulties of losing his job as a detective while feeling an attraction to the Gadget 2 model that has been created to take his place.
Where the movie falls short is when it dives head-first into the most awful of cliches: namely the beyond worn-out African-American catchphrases gratuitously shoehorned in by the Gadgetmobile. Such trite writing calls attention to the bland and predictable formula employed throughout the entire movie, and ultimately prevents it from being more entertaining than it could have been.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sequels. Why do you think they are made, and how do they typically compare with the first movies?
Why do some films employ product placement? Why do some major corporations want their products prominently shown in movies?
For those familiar with the original cartoon: What similarities and differences do you see between this version of Inspector Gadget and the original 1980s cartoon?
- On DVD or streaming: March 11, 2003
- Cast: Bruce Spence, Elaine Hendrix, French Stewart
- Director: Alex Zamm
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild violence/peril
- Last updated: November 25, 2019
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