New Orleans Film Festival Big Easy Movie Reviews: Inspector Ike

“It’s the Saturday Night Mystery Movie. You’ve had a long week. Now, it’s time to kick back and enjoy a comforting tale of murder. So, pop some popcorn, and warm up a fresh pot of chili. Because an all-new Inspector Ike starts right about now.”

Imagine this movie from the 2020 New Orleans Film Festival: New York City. The 1970s. A time when turtlenecks and ABBA were funky fab, and VHS and VCRs were cutting-edge technology. We go to New York’s theatre district. In particular, “Avant Garde Alley,” where two men are rehearsing a scene. Little does one of them know, that it’s their last.

The scene is for understudy Harry Newcombe’s (Matt Barats) potential big break for a play in California. He intends, he says, to send a video of his monologue out west. The man helping him run his lines is Chip Conrad (John Early), for whom Harry has been the understudy for ten different productions. But guess what? Harry isn’t doing a very good job. So, Chip and Harry switch places, with Chip doing the reading. But it turns out, that as the video camera records, Chip isn’t reading a scene to help Harry, he’s been set up to read a suicide note.

BANG! Chip is dead and Harry is no longer the understudy but is instead the New York theatres’ sensational new Avant Garde star. With Chip dead and buried in a location that is unknown to all but Harry, and a videotaped suicide note, Harry has committed the perfect crime. Or has he?

“Hi everyone. My name is Inspector Ike. I’m New York city’s greatest police detective and I’m here to solve this mystery.”

Enter Inspector Ike (Ikechukwu Ufomadu, who is also one of the writers of the film), a man who has never lost a case, a man who can solve a crime without a single clue. Not only is he presented as a brilliant inspector, but he’s also the friendliest cop ever, on TV or otherwise, I’ve ever seen in my entire life. He’s solved crimes with no evidence. The only case he’s ever lost is the Son of Sam murders, and that, we learn, was actually solved by Inspector Mike. With Inspector Ike on the case, it should only be a matter of time before the murder, and this 82-minute movie is wrapped up.

Inspector Ike is a parody and a tribute to 1970s TV “Saturday Night Mystery Movie” of the week: TV shows like “McMillan and Wife,” “Columbo,” “McCloud,” and the “Naked Gun” movies, with a little “Dragnetthrown in for good measure. It’s a good parody. In fact, it’s a fantastic homage to such genre TV and films.

Inspector Ike is a film that truly knows where its roots lie. From the way it is shot, to the cheesy special effects edits, to the perfect 70s soundtrack, it’s a movie that truly does its inspirational source material proud.

The film has a lot going for it, including its reliance on gags. Yes, there is slapstick, there are jokes, really hilariously bad ones. But most of all there are gags. Gag after gag. If you are in the mood for a comedy that relies heavily on these things, I can’t recommend Inspector Ike enough. But if you’re looking for something sophisticated, you’re going the wrong way. Inspector Ike uses its 1970s source material, but it never rises far above it.

“As far as I’m concerned this isn’t a crime scene until it becomes a crime scene. Does that make sense? It’s kind of like a Zen thing. You get it?”

The acting is wonderfully bad, and overacted, as it’s supposed to be. However, at other times it becomes uncomfortable, a bit forced, and occasionally it comes across as a little tiresome.  Maybe it was the consistent overacting, or maybe I’ve grown overly sophisticated, but there were times where the movie simply lost my attention.

For what it is, Inspector Ike is a fun spoof film. It’s not deep, it’s not brilliant, but it’s a heck of a good time. I recommend seeing it, if you’re in the mood, once. It’s not one of those films that really holds up super well upon multiple viewings.

If you want a look back into 1970s TV cinema, that’s truly “fun-in-cheek” or you want a new and unique chili recipe look no further than Inspector Ike.

Rating: 3/5

To stream it online from the New Orleans Film Festival, click here



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