dir Anthony Leondis
scr Chris McKenna
voices John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes, Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, Jennifer Coolidge, John Cleese, Jay Leno, Christian Slater, Arsenio Hall, Myleene Klass, James Lipton
release US 19.Sep.08, UK 17.Oct.08
08/US Weinstein 1h27
I've created a monster: Igor and Eva

cusack buscemi hayes
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Igor Inventively designed and infused with a bizarre sense of energy, this animated comedy-satire makes up for its simplistic story with some demented humour. But it's too talky and convoluted for young children.

Igor (voiced by Cusack) lives in the rainy kingdom of Malaria, home to the world's most evil mad scientists. When his own Dr Glickenstein (Cleese) becomes the victim of an ill-conceived invention, Igor decides to enter his own creation in the upcoming Evil Science Fair. With the help of his sidekicks, an immortal rabbit (Buscemi) and a brain in a jar (Hayes), he succeeds in creating a living monster (Shannon). But she turns out to be more Eva than evil. And a competitor scientist (Izzard) and his sidekick (Coolidge) are about to discover his secret.

Two classics clearly provided inspiration here: the most obvious is or course James Whale's exquisite The Bride of Frankenstein, which so adeptly mixes humanity with monstrosity and is echoed in the emotive eyes of Igor and Eva. The other is Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, from which virtually all of the character design has been directly lifted, as well as the over-all horror-comedy tone.

Sadly, the filmmakers haven't tapped into the storytelling genius of either of those movies, instead opting for an over-complicated plot involving revenge for revenge's sake, romantic blackmail and the deep desire for death and destruction, not to mention side-roads through suicide, brainwashing, seduction and fear-mongering. Yes, it's all done comically, but while watching sitting through yet another rambling scene of twisted dialog, you can feel the kids getting restless.

Visually, the film looks terrific, simply because it violates most of the rules of the genre, making its characters look like pointy insects and bug-eyed mutants, while the settings are like something from a Dr Seuss nightmare. It's a bit too murky and overcrowded to really work, but at least it gives us something to watch, while the cast members provide voices that hit the comedic and emotional notes just right. And the script contains just enough warped humour to keep the older audience members chuckling. Not to mention the most deranged rendition of Annie's Tomorrow you'll ever hear.

cert pg themes, violence 5.Oct.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall