35 years ago, Dennis Quaid made the last sci-fi film of its kind

A chaotic, alcoholic military veteran volunteers for an experimental process that would miniaturize it, but a series of goofy hijinks prevent it from being injected into a lab rabbit as originally planned. Instead, he gets rammed into the body of a clumsy Safeway employee. Together they must find the missing piece to enable re-enlargement and, along the way, learn more about each other and themselves.

It looks like the perfect shot for a broad buddy comedy with some goofy genre elements thrown in, something in the vein of Flubber or one of the old Road to… movies. But at the same time Interior spacewhich turns 35 on July 1, has its comedic elements, it is above all a sci-fi thriller that tackles the international intrigue and paranoia of the Soviet era.

interior space, a 1987 film directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg, could not be made today. Although we now have countless sci-fi and action thrillers with their fair share of jokes (think Marvel’s endless one-liners), they’re still sci-fi movies with comedy, not the ‘reverse. Interior spacehowever, has a perfect comedic premise, but lets the sci-fi elements drive the plot while the inherent goofiness supports every twist.

The story revolves around Navy pilot Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid), who loves a drink as much as he loves serving his country and has a volatile love-hate relationship with journalist Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan). . He signs up for a top-secret experimental miniaturization mission, but the operation goes awry when the lab is attacked by a rival scientific organization.

While carrying a syringe containing Tuck in a microscopic submersible, the lead scientist is chased into a mall and shot. Faced with no other option, he injects Tuck into the closest person, a mild-mannered, hypochondriac Safeway employee named Jack Putter (Martin Short) whose worst nightmare comes true when a voice begins speaking in his head. Jack and Tuck must join forces to defend the secret of miniaturization and make Tuck grow bigger before he runs out of oxygen.

You can’t have a movie with Martin Short that isn’t funny. Jack Putter is a totally incompetent man, pushed into the lead role out of sheer necessity, and that’s what drives much of the humor. But the story takes itself completely seriously, even if it turns to drunken dancing and face-swapping routines.

Martin Short and Meg Ryan in Interior space.Warner Bros.

Today, this kind of sci-fi film couldn’t be made without sticking its tongue in its cheek with every joke it makes. just look free guy, another story of a normal man thrown into an absurd sci-fi scenario. Yes, there are action elements, but it was advertised as a self-aware comedy. Interior space is the anti-ironic movie, without once admitting the fact that it’s funny.

In addition to its remarkable balance of tone, Interior space is important because we wouldn’t have a beloved man without it. Stars Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan met on set and eventually married, resulting in a son, Jack. Jack Quaid is now better known as Hughie Campbell in The boys. Interior space The legacy may have been erased by devious superheroes, but it now exists as an artifact where a goofy story can be a successful, engrossing sci-fi thriller that keeps you guessing — and laughing.

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