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'Igor' and the nice monster

September 19, 2008|Robert Abele | Special to The Times

"Pull the switch!" is what every hunchbacked assistant in the sunless Kingdom of Malaria (main export: evil) hears from their diabolical, cruel lab masters. In the animated movie "Igor," however, one such lowly misfit (voiced by John Cusack) dreams of shattering the castle ceiling for his worker class and inventing his own mad creature some day.

But when Igor builds a hulking female monster (Molly Shannon) in the hopes of winning the Evil Science Fair, she turns out to be a sweet giantess who wouldn't hurt a fly.

Clearly inspired by the dark-hearted stop-motion fables of Tim Burton, this is really one of those fever-pitched computer-generated whizbangs in which every character spits out lines like a caffeinated Catskills comic, which is fine when Eddie Izzard (as Igor's nefarious scientist rival), Jennifer Coolidge or Shannon are humoring us, but tiring when it's Jay Leno or Sean Hayes. It leaves Chris McKenna's gabby screenplay feeling like a joke writers' session in which nothing was discarded.

The film's design is suitably cartoon Gothic, but appreciating any of the visuals is difficult when director Tony Leondis -- following the current vogue for kid-targeted flicks -- treats every scene as if he's in a speed race for cutting and camera movement.

Where's that switch again?


"Igor." MPAA rating: PG for some thematic elements, scary images, action and mild language. Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes. In general release.

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