Reviewed by Nomad
Featuring the voices of John Cusack, Myleene Klass, Robin Howard, Matt McKenna, John Cleese, Steve Buscemi
Directed by Anthony Leondis
Welcome to the far off land of Malaria, home to the most evil super scientists the world has ever seen. To be frank, Malaria’s chief export, arguably, IS evil…and every year these psychotic brainiacs pit their most insidious creations against each other. The winner stands triumphant upon the world stage while his good King Malbert politely demands billions of dollars, lest he turn this monstrosity loose on them. It’s a global shake down, and a profitable one at that.
The Malarian food chain is simple; the king rules over the land. The mad scientists are the rock stars, treated to a lush lifestyle and creepy hilltop castle, free of charge. The people of Malaria are sort of just there to cheer on the scientists it seems. Finally … way at the bottom of the totem pole is the Igor; servant, slave and whipping boy to the scientists. If you’re born with a hump, you are shipped off to Igor school and that’s your lot in life. Fail your master and you are recycled! Yes, this is a cartoon and its rated PG, so keep that in mind as you visualize the carnage that awaits you!
At any rate, this is the story of one little Igor (voiced by Cusack) who wishes to transcend his lisp and lot in life and be an evil scientist himself. It’s the classic Disney theme of looking past someone’s appearance to see there is more to them beneath, although in this case, Walt Disney would be running past the camera on fire chased by a multi tentacled Ariel holding a trident shooting lightning. Get the picture?
Igor is like a violent version of Young Frankenstein. This is the extremely witty and hysterically funny bastard child of Mel Brooks and John Landis. The comedic timing is top notch with humor that is 95% mean spirited, often remarkably dark and at times even a little gory (without the blood of course)! Igor draws a line in the sand and says “over there is horror movie territory” and then proceeds to dance as close to that line as possible and a couple of times, trips slightly over it, if only for a second.
The result is a wildly imaginative instant cult classic that will have parents laughing along with their kids, especially if those parents were raised on good ole’ fashioned Hammer Horror. I, myself, wore a ridiculous grin the entire time I watched.
It’s always hard to speak about acting performance in an animated feature, but we can certainly tell if a celeb is just dialing it in. This is one cast that consistently had me laughing across the board. Cusack brings a light heartedness to the Igor character, like a child practicing sounding mean at times and the rest, just keeping up with a manic pace. Steve Buscemi is brilliant casting lending a dead pan, no frills, almost exasperated voice to Scamper, the rabbit with a death wish. Sean Hayes (aka that guy from “Will and Grace”) rounds out the primary cast as Brain, the brain in a jar who behaves like the dim boy in the back of the class who eats paste and can be amused with a shiny coin for hours. His hyperactive voice is more than perfect for the job.
Then we have Eddie Izzard as Dr. Shadenfreude, our bad guy, who incorporates a sort of male version of Lili Von Shtupp from Blazing Saddles to hilarious effect. His counterpart is Jennifer Coolidge, whose voice you’d know anywhere. When Jennifer does her Heidi voice, you just may spit your drink out...so be warned. Finally we have Molly Shannon who brings an air of innocence and girlish fun to Eva the monster, playing her lines straight as an arrow.
This shows that exceptional writing, when coupled with superior direction, can bring a cast together for one hell of an enjoyable film. Sometimes the old tricks work best … and just when you thought it wasn’t possible anymore! Granted, we’ve had some excellent successes in comedy this summer in Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express, but when was the last time a feature length cartoon made you bust a gut?
Art style is a big deal for people, as I’ve seen some experiment with new directions with disastrous results. Igor incorporates a style practically mocking Nightmare Before Christmas with character’s faces carved into primary shapes and scrawny little limbs dangling off of their bodies. Shadow is used to great effect, not only to strike the pre-requisite mad scientist mood but to enhance the feeling of 3 dimensions. This, coupled with a cinematic eye leaning towards the dramatic, further pulls you into the feature, exposing the creator’s love for black and white horror films of years past. For horror fans in particular, you’ll get your fill of mayhem through Scamper, almost exclusively, as he is shot, chopped, blown up and crispy fried and keeps on ticking with one liners at the ready. Think Looney Tunes, but after Daffy Duck takes a shotgun blast to the face, we get a turn around shot through the gaping hole in his head. Sick, mean spirited and funny; three great tastes that go great together!
With nearly non-stop laughs from an amazing cast, an excellently written, thoroughly surprising story line with images you never thought you’d see in an animated feature before and top notch animation, there is no way you can lose. Igor is Nightmare Before Christmas’ dorky little brother and I’m certain will hold up just as well in the years to come. You wanted something different on the big screen amid the countless remakes and big budget blow-ups? Here you go! Be sure to get out there opening weekend and show them it was all worth it.
And check out our exclusive chat with the Igor creators below!
5 out of 5
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