Joe Dante Has A Theory Why Innerspace Ended Up Being A Box Office Flop

There’s a painful truth that needs to be addressed: Hollywood never knew what to do with Martin Short. The Canadian comedian first gained acclaim in the Great White North with his standout performances on “SCTV,” Canada’s answer to “Saturday Night Live.” In a stroke of luck, he found himself opposite Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in “¡Three Amigos!”, a now beloved comedy that severely underperformed at the box office upon release, as did his next movie, “Innerspace”.

The character of Jack Putter was a perfect fit for Short, and the chemistry he had with Quaid was undeniable, even though they only appeared on screen together at the very end. Screenwriter Jeffrey Boam (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”) came on board, and Dante (via Ultimate Rabbit’s report) described his rewrite as “Dean Martin being shrunk down and then put into Jerry Lewis.” It’s a perfect description, and the physical comedy Short pulls off in “Innerspace” sometimes feels like he’s channeling Jerry Lewis. Quaid balances that manic energy with a calm, collected performance that also showcases his explosive side when things get tense as he pushes his way through Short’s body.

Dante recalled one working lunch in particular where Warner Bros. executives. called Short “not very attractive” and that maybe he should be recast… with a Dennis Quaid guy. Dante retorted by asking “Did you even read the script?” This lack of studio support may have caused some insecurity with Short, who, according to Dante, “loved to do a lot of takes” and “did a lot of improvisation” throughout production.

According to Dante, Short even took a knee once and did a Katherine Hepburn impression pleading, “No Joe! Please let me do just one more!”

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