Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Igor

 

Review by Patrick Hodges

Let me say this up front: Igor is NOT a Tim Burton movie.

It is perhaps a testament to Tim Burton’s genius, as the driving force behind such offerings as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, that whenever we see the trailer for a film, be it animated or live-action, that features a macabre premise with a fair amount of kooky wit, Tim Burton’s name pops almost instantly into our minds.  But, sad to say, he had nothing whatsoever to do with Igor.  Which is a shame, because it could definitely have benefited from his talents.

The premise:  in the land of Malaria, a land perpetually covered by storm clouds, the biggest celebrities are Evil Scientists, who yearly compete for the coveted Evil Scientist of the Year award.  You see, whichever invention is the most evil wins, and the King of Malaria (voiced by Jay Leno) then blackmails the world into keeping said invention unused, and thus Malaria survives.  And each Scientist has a hunchbacked lab assistant named Igor, who was bred from birth to fetch, carry, and “pull the switch”.

But there is one Igor (John Cusack) who aspires to be more than that, as he dreams of being an Evil Scientist himself.  However, he faces two problems: first, the obvious, which is that an Igor inventing is strictly against the status quo; and second, this Igor is the servant of Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese), perhaps the worst Scientist of the bunch.  However, when Glickenstein dies in a freak accident, Igor decides that this is his opportunity to shine, and soon after, he gives life, Frankenstein-style, to a huge behemoth named Eva (Molly Shannon).  And all would seem to be fine, except for the fact that Eva is not at all evil.  (Eva…evil.  Get it?)  And, despite the fact that he spends the entire movie trying to convince us otherwise, neither is Igor.

I won’t say that this is a terrible movie, it isn’t.  But it’s not a particularly good one either.  The animation was so-so; the cast, while impressive, was either unengaging or over-the-top; but mostly, it was just corny.  By far the best part were Igor’s two cohorts, Scamper and Brain.  Scamper (voiced deliciously by Steve Buscemi) is a rabbit that was accidentally made immortal, and is none too happy about it, and Brain (Sean Hayes) is exactly that… a mobile brain-in-a-jar, and not a particularly intelligent one at that.  They have all the best scenes and one-liners between them, and it was they that made this film even halfway amusing.

If you are a parent wondering whether to take your kids to see Igor, let me offer this advice:  if they are under the age of, say, six, I wouldn’t, because the plot may be a little too bizarre for them to understand; if they are over twelve, it would probably be a little too cornball for them.  While watching this (surrounded by many, many kids), I took particular note of who was laughing the hardest and who wasn’t, and this is my diagnosis.  A good idea that could have used some Burtonizing, but not much more.

2 ½ / 5 stars

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