Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Movie Review:Igor

Picking up on the idea proposed by the Shrek franchise and its more forgettable cousin Happily N'Ever After (2006), Igor (2008) takes the view of the classic villain, in this case the assistant to the evil mad scientist, and makes that movie.

Shrek (Mike Myers) is the best villain-as-hero of all time, but even he falls victim to the same trap Igor (John Cusack) falls into; he is not really a villain, he is just misunderstood. Igor has a heart of gold under his surface desire to be an evil scientist.

Stuck serving under defective mad scientist Dr. Glickenstein (John Cleese), Igor secretly works to invent evil inventions. Sadly, he is best at creating misshapen life; Brain (Sean Hayes) and Scamper (Steve Buscemi). Brain is so dumb he spells his name "Brian" and Scamper was unfortunately made immortal...but wants to die so he keeps committing suicide, only to reanimate moments later.

One of the best jokes in the entire movie is the tire tracks running across Scamper's belly. But there are a lot of other good jokes and several laughs. There is also some tremendous voice and comedic talent. Sadly, a lot of it is wasted; Eddie Izzard as Dr. Shadenfreuede has a horrific role as a stereotypical villain...yes, in a movie where a villain is the hero there is a villain...and another one...and another one.

Anyhow, Igor rolls out, overcomes obstacles, makes his evil invention. So far, so good. The normal roles are inverted. Unfortunately, his evil invention proves to be good. Fortunately, it turns out Igor is not evil at heart...he just wants to invent, so he turns the kingdom back from evil and ends up happy with his good invention.

The best jokes come from the inverted paradigm where evil is preferred and it just depends on what level of evil you are successful at to be successful in the kingdom. The worst jokes and least entertainment come from trying to insert a classic villain into this setting. He just doesn't work.

And saddest of all, the turning of Igor to classic "good guy" weakens the result. This movie verged on greatness and ended up just being another forgettable entry into the field of animation.

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