One day it won’t be this way, I just don’t know when that day is going to come. I’m talking about the day we stop comparing all CGI animated features to those coming out of Pixar / Disney. I mean it’s not like we watch something like ‘Wild Things III’ and then turn around and say ‘You know, The Godfather was much better’. But fifteen years removed from ‘Toy Story’, which started the revolution, we still tend to compare these movies to the water bearer of the species which is Pixar Studios. One day we will stop this. Today isn’t that day. No sir, Igor from Metro Goldwyn Mayer doesn’t rise to the lofty heights set by the geniuses at Pixar as it is inconsistent, frenetic and misfires on far too many jokes, but the concept is a cool one, the voice acting is top notch and it does have its charms that still make it hard to resist.
John Cusack narrates as Igor, with Igor being more of a class or a race than an actual name. As Igor will tell us, years ago some ominous clouds formed over his small village of Malaria and never left, thus squashing out the livelihoods of their rich farming community and raising generations of people without the sun. Fortunately for them their great King Malbert (Jay Leno) turned this frown upside down and formed a new industry for the town of Malaria… Mad Scientism! Now Malaria is filled with genius Mad Scientist who create the worst creations ever and threaten to release these creations into the world unless the world pays them a hefty fee to keep these monstrosities right where they are in Malaria.
Our Igor has the misfortune of working for Malaria’s most incompetent Mad Scientist Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese), with this made even more challenging since Igor has designs on being a mad scientist himself. He even has a couple of creations that he’s made which serve as his friends in this tale in the suicidal immortal bunny scamper (Steve Buscemi) and the bodyless nitwit Brain (Sean Hayes). After Glickenstein
suffers an unfortunate accident, Igor finally is able to concentrate his full time on the most awesome evil creation ever, and that would be LIFE! So along with his buddies, Igor has created a 20 foot indestructible female monster who calls herself Eva (Molly Shannon) and unfortunately is about as evil as a sunflower and harbors dreams of being a stage actress.
The magnitude of this creation however isn’t lost on Malaria’s preeminent Mad Scientist / Fraud Dr Schadenfruede (Eddie Izzard) who is only the number one mad scientist because he steals the best inventions of his competitors, and now he has his eyes on Eva. So there’s a big evil scientist competition, Igor lies to Eva telling her it’s an audition, decides lying is bad and wants to tell her the truth, Schadenfruede steps in and convinces Eva that he’s the one who can make her a star and now it’s up to Igor to deactivate Eva’s ‘evil bone’ – don’t ask, while exposing the deception of Schadenfruede and declare his love for his monster made of spare parts. You know the routine.
‘Igor’ is case of high concept meets kind of low execution. I only say kind of low because I really do think the idea behind the story is a really good one and open to a lot of potential, I just don’t believe that director Anthony Leondis was able to squeeze out all that the idea had to offer. There’s really nothing worse than a joke that doesn’t work and there were a few here and there in ‘Igor’ that you knew were supposed to be funny that really weren’t, and despite the fresh idea behind the story, and thought process behind the wild imaginations that a community filled with Mad Scientist would offer, since most of us were raised on Mad Scientist, the actual story once it kicked was pretty standard and run of the mill.
But the movie was not devoid of cleverness as it did have its inspired moments, which on one hand were great to witness, but on the other hand had you longing for more moments such as those. On the plus side Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon and Eddie Izzard seemed to be having a lot of fun with their voice acting parts, John Cusack was good but was saddled with basically being the straight man to Buscemi and Sean Hayes. The jokes that did work in the movie were very funny and at no point during the movie did I have to look at my watch and pray that it would end because it was still entertaining, and even a little bit heart warming.
A couple of complaints I had heard about Igor before it hit DVD were that the animation was sub par and that it was too dark for children. I have to agree that it was a little too adult for young children, particularly the whole suicide bunny, as funny as he may have been. But I think the animation style fit the subject matter quite well. It certainly wasn’t photorealistic say like what you will see in Capcom’s CGI Resident Evil movie or Pixar’s Wall-E, but I don’t think for this particular film we needed to see individual strands of hair flowing in the wind and water refraction elements. It was a rougher more rudimentary style, and I think it worked well within the confines of our story.
Even though I was ultimately entertained by ‘Igor’ I still think it might have left too much on the table because the potential for greatness was there. It was as if they were trying to stay in the middle of the road between horror fantasy and good natured fun, and as a result, this film just kind of stayed right there in the middle of that road.