Rooftop Films premieres the 1970s New York City-set comedy Inspector Ike, inspired by the likes of Columbo and The Naked Gun.
After moving around the world, Inspector Ike (Ikechukwu Ufomadu) relocated back to New York City. It’s here where he joined the force and became the greatest police detective. He’s not a bumbling idiot and certainly doesn’t play the role in a way that Leslie Nielsen might. Ufomadu plays the detective with a deadpan delivery and stands out from the likes of Leslie Nielsen and Peter Sellers. While we’re briefly introduced to him during the title credits, he doesn’t enter the picture for a while.
Inspector Ike‘s early action takes place in Avant-Garde Alley in the Theater District. Harry (Matt Barats) and Jan (Grace Rex) are on their way to take in a play. Not just any play but one that lasts the same length as the average work day. It’s absurd but it also allows Harry to take care of business. Harry escapes to make a self-tape for an audition. Fellow actor Chip Conrad (John Early) helps with the tape but let’s just say, he should have just stayed away from the theater that night.
Harry has been Chip’s understudy for a long time now. One can certainly see why Harry would be upset. Anyway, they’re both in the same avantgarde theater group and when Chip later goes missing, Harry gets the lead role in their next play. With Chip missing, the inspector starts his investigation. Watch for the back and forth between him and Harry. The audience knows more than he does at this point but even he quickly becomes suspicious. Again, just like Columbo.
A big supporting character isn’t NYC like typical NYC-set films but the mickey-mousing score by Simon Hanes. It’s a throwback film in that sense because the score enhances the action taking place on screen. It isn’t the type of score that plays in the background when characters are speaking. The score is the type that also works as sound effects. Don’t tell me that I didn’t learn anything about film history during the pandemic!
I give great credit here to the script from Graham Mason and Ikechukwu Ufomadu. The duo clearly know what they’re doing with this cat-and-mouse satirical comedy. The Columbo homage really comes through in how the film is presented right down to the grain. It really feels like you’re watching a lost Saturday night TV movie from the 1970s with how the palette looks. It goes without saying that you should make sure to stick around through the end of the credits. Inspector Ike could have been one of those comedies that doesn’t work but there’s just enough here to keep our attention and entertain us. And maybe hoping for a sequel.
DIRECTOR: Graham Mason
SCREENWRITERS: Graham Mason and Ikechukwu Ufomadu
CAST: Ikechukwu Ufomadu, Matt Barats, Ana Fabrega, John Early, Aparna Nancherla, Grace Rex, Jessica Damouni, Anthony Oberbeck, Lorelei Ramirez