Starring: John Cusack, Molly Shannon, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes, Eddie Izzard, and Jennifer Coolidge
Directed by: Tony Leondis
Written by: Chris McKenna
Released: Alliance Films (2009)
Genre: Children's Animated
Animated movies just don't enthrall me the way they used to, at least not as often. Wall-E and a few other films over the last decade have captivated me, but I think the advent of CGI has caused films that would otherwise be passed over to get the green light. Remember that animated movie about the fish that wasn't Finding Nemo; the one with Will Smith and Jack Black voice acting? Yeah, crap like that.
Igor, I'm afraid, falls into the crap-like-that category. I hate to say such a thing, especially because the cast was so strong overall. I mean, how bad can a movie be when it has John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, and Jennifer Coolidge. Yes, the movie always stars the likes of Sean Hayes, Arsenio Hall, Christian Slater, and why-oh-why Jay Leno. But not all films can bat a thousand in the casting department.
I don't know when this movie hit theaters, but I'll assume it was around Halloween. And I'll also assume it did poorly, as I hadn't heard of it until recently.
The premise sounded promising enough: A mad scientist's assistant, Igor (voiced by Cusack), has dreams of being an inventor himself and competing in the annual showdown where each scientist's evil invention battles it out until the last invention standing is used as blackmail against the neighboring nations to Malaria--a recession proof scheme if ever there was one.
With inspiration drawn from the classic monster movies from Universal and other studios, like Frankenstein and Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, the potential for witty parody and loving winks to those films are few and far between. Instead, the movie relies heavily on well-worn pratfalls and one-liners that have long lost their charm. I think it's through the talents the cast with Cusack and Molly Shannon (voicing Igor's Frankensteinian invention, Eva) that help salvage what's there to be enjoyed.
Ultimately, this is a kid's movie rather than a family film. A family film gives something to adults to enjoy, those winks and nods through the whimsical antics of the cartoon characters, but I noticed none of that in this one. Oh, the lost potential of casting Eddie Izzard as the voice of the villain--another missed opportunity like his role in My Super Ex-Girlfriend. I shall not dwell on how insufferable Jay Leno's voice was in his scenes, I shall simply thank my luck stars those scenes were few in number.
If your kids like monsters and you want your television to babysit for ninety minutes, throw this DVD on. I think you could find some better movies for them to watch, though. Perhaps Monsters Inc. or The Addams Family.