Picks and Pans Review: Innerspace

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

More and more, Steven Spielberg's presentations play like crowd teasers. Sure, Spielberg has a sixth sense for what delights an audience. He reigns as king of concepts, which must make for great story meetings. Recently a lot of those concepts have gone erratically undeveloped. He has had producer credits of various types on everything from Young Sherlock Holmes to Harry and the Hendersons, productions that have traded cohesion and creativity for cuteness and instant gratification. Innerspace is no exception. The neo-Fantastic Voyage idea is a high-tech adventure comedy in which Martin Short, a hypochondriac grocery clerk, finds himself injected with—here's the concept—buckaroo astronaut Dennis Quaid. There has been a misbegotten government experiment in miniaturization, and the nerd, Short, is suddenly inhabited by his polar opposite. However, the movie never mines the comedy in this ingenious situation, settling for car chases and the usual conspiracies. In Short, at least, this prefab entertainment finds a soul. A Saturday Night Live alum, Short isn't a mere physical clown. His limbs look as if they're made of Silly Putty, and despite the fancy effects, most of the movie's laughs come from his body language. Coasting through his host's bloodstream, Quaid switches on a tape of Twistin' the Night Away, and Short starts a hilariously spasmodic dance. Whenever Innerspace makes Short secondary to the plot, it whirls out of control. As directed by Joe Dante, who made Gremlins for Spielberg, the movie shows little of the perverse comedy that is Dante's signature, and coincidences snowball in Chip Proser's script. Watching Innerspace is like riding a familiar roller coaster: It's decent fun but the thrill is gone. (PG)

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