The lost 70s TV movie is the right note

Inspector Ike is a lost TV movie from the 1970s. Well, at least we could be forgiven for thinking it was. The plot involves the understudy of an avant-garde theater group named Harry (Matt Barats). In order to bask in the spotlight he so desperately dreams of, he killed the theater’s main star Chip (John Early) and made it look like a suicide. Can Detective Ike (Ikechukwu Ufomadu), “NYPD’s top detective,” unravel this tangled web?

Where do you draw the line between loving homage, faithful recreation, and outright parody? Director Graham Morgan seemed unsure which direction to take Inspector Ike The opening suggests it will be a fun remake of 70s television, but other than a fun idea involving recipe cards, the idea is never revisited afterwards.

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There’s also nothing that makes it look like it was done out of love for TV movies. While there were some callbacks back then, these are ones that even those who weren’t sitting in front of their TVs at the time would notice. The setting of Inspector Ike seems to have been chosen more as practical decor than anything else.

The question then becomes, does the film succeed as a parody? Filled with dry humor and sight gags, Inspector Ike is a hilarious watch. The trick with parodies is how the source material is used. Many times, submissions will attempt to be laughable at the expense of inspiration.

This is never the case in Inspector Ike. The comedy is genuine without being petty while the game of cat and mouse is entertaining. There will be inevitable comparisons with police squad! but the film is strong enough to stand on its own.

Inspector Ike hits theaters February 18

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