Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1987. Warner Bros., The Guber-Peters Company, Amblin Entertainment. Story by Chip Proser, Screenplay by Jeffrey Boam, Chip Proser. Cinematography by Andrew Laszlo. Produced by Michael Finnell. Music by Jerry Goldsmith. Production Design by James H. Spencer. Costume Design by Rosanna Norton. Film Editing by Kent Beyda. Academy Awards 1987.
Dennis Quaid plays a roguish fighter pilot with a drinking problem who signs up for a dangerous experiment after alienating everyone else who could give him a saner job. A secretive medical facility is conducting an experiment that places him in a submersible vessel, miniaturizes him to atomic size and, the plan is, will inject him into a rabbit to test his ability to navigate its body and provide medical assistance or adjustments where needed. Just after Quaid and his vessel are reduced to the size of a speck of dust, the lab is broken into by goons working for a villainous businessman (Kevin McCarthy) who wants the technology for his own nefarious purposes. An escaping scientist running away with Quaid in a syringe is desperate to not lose his work and, during an exciting chase in a shopping mall, injects him in a hypochondriac grocery store clerk (Martin Short) out of desperation. Once Quaid realizes what is going on, he hooks himself up to Short’s vision and hearing and communicates with him from within, which provides plenty of opportunity for the modern day Jerry Lewis to perform all manner of slapstick antics. Now this tiny pilot has to guide Short from within to get even with the bad guys, reunite with his estranged girlfriend (Meg Ryan) and get himself back to human size before the villains get hold of the miniaturization chips. For a film with as many complications as it has, this modernization of Fantastic Voyage gets up and running very quickly and, for the most part, operates successfully within its own internal logic. If you reject the possibilities of the main premise, your lack of imagination is your problem, but the script does make a few poor choices that even a suspension of disbelief can’t support, including a “facial reconstruction” of Short into Robert Picardo as an eccentric arms dealer. Short and Quaid have terrific chemistry despite never having any scenes together, and Ryan manages to make an impression despite being the guest Girlfriend Type in a male story.