Monday, January 26, 2009

Igor: Grade C

Igor (2008)
John Cusack, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes Jay Leno, Eddie Izzard, Jennifer Coolidge, Molly Shannon. Director Anthony Leondis (animation).

The animated fantasy world of Malaria exalts evil, and this fable focuses on a competition among evil scientists to create the most evil monster, a riff on the Frankenstein genre. Igor (Cusack) is a hunchback assistant who dreams of becoming an evil scientist. He gets his chance, but his monster (Shannon) turns out good rather than evil, and then is mistakenly programmed to be a neophyte actress who wants to play the lead in a production of Annie, which leads to some pretty funny “evil” jokes.

Buscemi and Hayes are Igor’s sidekicks, the funniest and most creative characters in the script. The writing for them is a level above. Buscemi steals every scene he is in (using only his voice!). Unfortunately, Cusack is not much of a voice actor, and since Igor is the main character, he flattens the whole picture. Izzard stands out although his character is stereotyped and not very funny. Coolidge does excellent voices, but her characters are not very funny either. Leno is undistinguished. Shannon, as the good monster, gives an adequate performance, but she has some great lines so the character is a big success. The writing is highly variable, from Buscemi’s delicious, nihilistic rabbit-thing, to Hayes’ brain-in-a-vat, all the way down to Cusack’s Igor, a character that is not cute, funny, or interesting. One wonders how one writer could be so inconsistent.

Animation is attractive but quite simple. The style is more sketchy than fully realized, with the overall art direction borrowing heavily from Burton’s Corpse Bride. Other liberal borrowings are from Wall-e, Monsters, Inc., and Kung Fu Panda, and they are quotations, not parodies. The characters are creatively drawn, cleverly animated, and a few are brilliantly conceived, even if the story line is cliché. Music is loud and noisy, as kids prefer it. Kids will like this cartoon-- it is silly, not scary -- and there are plenty of LOL guffaws to justify adults’ time.

No comments:

Post a Comment