Innerspace is a 1987 science fiction comedy film directed by Joe Dante and produced by Michael Finnell. Steven Spielberg served as executive producer. The film was inspired by the classic 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage. It stars Dennis Quaid, Martin Short, Meg Ryan, Robert Picardo and Kevin McCarthy, with music composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Though not a box office success ($25,893,810 of domestic gross revenue), it did win an Oscar, the only film directed by Joe Dante to do so. It was subsequently novelized by Nathan Elliott.
Down-on-his-luck naval aviator Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is selected as a guinea pig to participate in an experimental project which will place him in a submersible pod, to be shrunk to microscopic size and injected into the body of a rabbit. Immediately after being miniaturized, the experiment takes a bad turn when the lab is attacked. The experiment supervisor Ozzie Wexler (John Hora) escapes with the miniaturized Tuck in a syringe. After sustaining a fatal gunshot wound, he injects Tuck and the pod into hypochondriac Safeway clerk Jack Putter (Martin Short). After establishing contact with his new host, Tuck must figure out how to get out of Jack's "Innerspace" before he runs out of oxygen. With Tuck's guidance, Jack enrolls the assistance of Tuck's recently estranged girlfriend, Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan).
After making contact with the lab, Tuck and Jack are informed that there is another group of scientists and capitalists attempting to accomplish the same goal of miniaturization for use in their scheme to sell the technology for use in espionage. They are led by the mysterious Victor Scrimshaw, a suave white-dressed villain (played by Kevin McCarthy). The raid on the lab was to steal a chip vital to the process. One of the interests in that technology is the "Cowboy", so called because of his habitual mode of dressing. Tuck uses plastic surgery performed from within to change Jack's face into the Cowboy's in order to obtain the chip from Scrimshaw, but Jack's nervousness overrides the transformation, exposing the scam. Jack and Lydia, who has been informed and confided in by both Tuck and Jack, are captured by Mr. Igoe (Vernon Wells), locked in a meat truck and taken to the lab. Now that the villains have the chip, they miniaturize Mr. Igoe and send him into the body of Jack, to extract a second chip required for re-enlargement installed in Tuck's pod.
Jack and Lydia manage to escape their confinement, and Jack, initially thinking that Tuck is still inside him controlling his actions, fights his way past the guards and steals the chip back, accidentally shrinking Scrimshaw and his associates to midget size in the process. Igoe's craft eventually finds Tuck's pod, but is disabled after Tuck jams one of the pod's arms into a thrust port. Mr. Igoe abandons his craft using an ejection system and attempts to crack the pod windows with a drill on his exosuit. Igoe is killed, however, when Jack's stomach ulcer acts up, digesting him.
With little time left to spare, Tuck's pod is removed from Jack and is enlarged. Tuck later marries Lydia, with Jack as his best man. The film ends with an open finale when Jack notices the "Cowboy" sliding into Tuck's limo disguised as a driver, with the miniaturized Scrimshaw and his assistant Margaret in the car's trunk. Now confident and in control of his life, Jack jumps into Tuck's Mustang to rescue the newlyweds.
- Martin Short as Jack Putter
- Dennis Quaid as Lt. Tuck Pendleton
- Meg Ryan as Lydia Maxwell
- Kevin McCarthy as Victor Scrimshaw
- Fiona Lewis as Dr. Margaret Canker
- Robert Picardo as The Cowboy
- Vernon Wells as Mr. Igoe
- Henry Gibson as Mr. Wormwood
- William Schallert as Dr. Greenbrush
- Wendy Schaal as Wendy
- Harold Sylvester as Pete Blanchard
- Mark L. Taylor as Dr. David Niles
- John Hora as Ozzie Wexler
- Orson Bean as Lydia's Editor
- Kevin Hooks as Duane Florney
- John Laskay as Scrimshaw's Henchman 1
- Frank A. Miller as Scrimshaw's Henchman 2
- Dick Miller as Cab Driver
- Neil Ross as Pod computer (voice)
- Academy Awards: Best Visual Effects, Won
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Best Director, Best Science Fiction Film, Best Special Effects, nominated
- Fantastic Voyage – an earlier film with a similar premise