'Igor' wastes potential, misses target audience
September 25, 2008
Boy meets . Boy loses . Boy gets back. And we all saw it coming. It’s the same old song and dance, sung so many times that I’m sure we could all dance the steps in our sleep. And maybe that is the appeal, the inherent safety to be found just this side of recognition. The tired story arc may be beaten down through years of abuse but filmmakers still feel a nagging sense of familiarity tugging at their artistic vision that keeps them safely stranded apart from the path less traveled.
And that is precisely the cancer that plagues “Igor”, the latest thread-bare in a long trend of time-worn CGI family-friendly platitudes. Director Anthony Leondis falls flat on his face trying to control a roller coaster script penned by Chris McKenna.
The story begins in familiar territory, flirts cautiously with danger but ultimately surrenders itself to the trite annals of asepticism.
In the dreary land of Malaria, mad scientists rule. As is customary, every scientist has their own hunchbacked assistant named Igor, who, as untouchables, aren’t allowed to invent. But that doesn’t stop one Igor (John Cusack) from dreaming. After a lab leaves his master in pieces, Igor decides to pursue his Frankensteinian dream and breathe life into his monstrous creation. But a brain wash gone awry leaves his monster, self-named Eva (not Evil), an aspiring actress wannabe with aspirations of playing Annie on Broadway.
The set-up poises itself for a creative burst of originality. The veritable Mary Shelley penned “Iron Giant” story of unconventional creature love is rotted from the inside out by a Tipper Gore-level obsession with remaining politically correct.
In its black heart, “Igor” is an -oriented satire embellished in drab shades of Burton, substituting some of the macabre with poignant criticisms on Hollywood culture - this PG “child’s” movie slams actor-culture in far more clever and comical ways than “Tropic Thunder” could ever hope for (Eva’s to-do list includes adopting children from all over the globe and becoming an environmentalist while continuing to jet-set in private planes).
Unfortunately this dark comedy is mixed with too much half-and-half: half the film is farce and satire while the other half is familial banality, half the film is good…
“Igor’s” evil wit is betrayed by the misplaced shoulder angel who presses Chigurh’s cattle gun against your head and fires the film’s overt moral into your brain: “It is better to be a good nobody than an evil somebody.”
And even while it stubbornly clings to this idea of preaching the straight and narrow to its younger viewers, “Igor” dips its toes into the deep end. The finale finds a group of blind orphans singing “I can see clearly now!”
“Igor” could have been a shining example of -comedy in an ironically animated package, but instead gives in to peer-pressure, denying its baser, edgier instincts in favor of a plain, unassuming coffin.
Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.