Review: “Igor”

As second-rate as its protagonist feels, “Igor” is yet another mediocre CG-animated family feature vainly hoping to cash in. The French studio designed look of the film is interesting but never shakes off the feeling of plagiarizing Tim Burton wherever it can.

Where “Igor” hits its hump is its story. Scribe Chris McKenna sets up the simple premise of a mad scientist’s eternally dreaming servant taking his master’s place to compete in the Evil Science Fair with his own project – a female Frankenstein’s monster called Eva with the desire to become an actress. Sadly there’s little more to it than that – the humor is forced and decidedly dated, same with the pop-culture references which travel on some strange tangents (‘Tomorrow’ from “Annie”, blind orphans singing ‘I Can See Clearly Now’).

Characters run around in a manic rush and yet there’s little ‘action’ to speak of with most restricted to one or two moments like a carriage chase or the ending escape from a death trap and race to the Science Fair. The animation certainly invokes homages to the classic James Whale style gothic look, but the character stylings are pure “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride” right down to the head shapes and oddball sidekicks.

Whereas in stop-motion those designs are beautifully physical and creative, in CG it seems inconsistent, over thought and under done. The few pleasures to be had amidst the mundane come from the stellar cast who struggle to try and add sass where possible. Steve Buscemi is the best as a suicidal immortal rabbit who drops sarcasm between various accidents that frustratingly don’t prove themselves lethal.

Eddie Izzard is also enjoyable dry as the evil Dr. Schadenfreude with his Elton John glasses, while Jennifer Coolidge takes on multiple characters as the various busty women of the film. Molly Shannon, John Cusack, Jay Leno and Sean Hayes give solid but forgettable turns in the various roles which ultimately end up cloying and heavy on the moral sermonizing about inner beauty and self-belief.

Ultimately the film can only dream of having the magic, personality and charm of Burton’s efforts. Even at a mere 87 minutes it struggles to come up with enough story to fill out its runtime – especially with its frantic pacing that never lets us as an audience indulge in the atmospheric settings. The base idea is sound, it’s a shame it’s just been wasted in an ultimately flimsy nothing of a film that even the pre-teens will find dated.