Innerspace | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Spielberg-produced Fantastic Voyage spin-off, about a military test pilot (Dennis Quaid) reduced to microscopic size who's accidentally injected in the body of a mild-mannered supermarket clerk (Martin Short, in a sparkling comic turn). The plot is standard fantasy-adventure pulp, though director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Explorers) has so many screwball things going on in it that the comedy all but overwhelms the formulaic line of action. Dante's gone the Spielberg route before, though this time he's taking some undeserved flak for it. The film is more restrained than usual, more preoccupied with Spielbergian uplift and tone, though most of the commercial tailoring has its own stylistic reward: the visuals are richer than ever, the production's more filled out, and the loss in anarchic temper (always an acolyte's affectation, it seems to me: the sensibility belonged more to Chuck Jones and Warners than to Dante himself) seems more than amply compensated by a Sturges-style emotional maturing. Explorers may be the more personal film, and the episode from Twilight Zone more daring, but this one's better in almost every other way. With Meg Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Fiona Lewis, and Dante's usual assortment of cameo guests: Ken Tobey, Dick Miller, Henry Gibson, Kathleen Freeman, et al. (Chicago Ridge, Biograph, Golf Mill, Lincoln Village, Ridge, Woodfield, Grove, Evanston, Hillside Square, Norridge, Diana, Ford City East, Deerbrook, Yorktown)

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