Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Joe Dante's 1987 sci-fi comedy Innerspace is a perfect example of why he's such a good filmmaker, and also why he's pretty much been out of the Hollywood scene in the past ten years. His best movies are loopy, a little dark, and always out to be as fun as possible. They're also generally sci-fi related, and the combination of all those elements essentially means Hollywood's going to say no to him these days (his most recent film, The Hole, got ignored a good theatrical release despite good reviews, while his last big release, Loony Tunes Back In Action, was a big flop despite fun visuals and a great sense of humor). One has to ask why a man with such a good track record as Dante can't get directing gigs anymore and the answer is essentially that movies like Innerspace just aren't hot commodity right now. It's a shame, because they're the kind of fun mainstream entertainments Hollywood could use more of. Innerspace, a circus of a movie, isn't making itself up as it goes along, but it certainly feels like it is. It takes the human miniaturization idea from Fantastic Voyage and goes places that are impossible to predict. This can be a problem if the ideas are no good, but here they're consistently smart and well-thought out. The combination of intelligent decisions with the film's tone of general indifference to the outcome of the plot give it an unusual feel. It simultaneously seems childish but also under the supervision of some very clever adults. That's the combination mainstream cinema might be lacking and could use a healthy dose of.