I don’t think this 2008 film actually made it to the cinema in NZ. Technically it was a flop and no-one really has a nice thing to say about it, which is a shame, because it has some great character design (courtesy of French animation studio Sparx) and a gleefully perverse sense of humour – one of many films (including Serial Mom by John Waters) to exploit the horror potential of ‘Tomorrow’ from the musical Annie.

The story is Pratchettesque, to put it mildly, with a lab assistant called Igor (one of a brotherhood of Igors who share/inherit body parts, just like in Discworld) attempting to come up with the ultimate evil invention, and producing a comely (if asymmetrical) Frankenstein’s monster who wishes to break into musical theatre.

The main problem this film has is that the script isn’t clever enough for adults (it really lacks that Pixar polish), but at the same time some of the humour is too dark for kids – the most compelling supporting character is an immortal bunny (gleefully voiced by Steve Buscemi) who keeps trying to commit suicide. Riiiight. And just as Horton Hears A Who ends with a godawful singalong of REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling’, this film shoehorns in ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. Oh well, at least animated films have gotten over that awful ’90s period where every Disney film was written as a Broadway musical.

Painfully, as with the original posters for Pixar’s Ratatouille, the DVD cover of Igor follows the title with a helpful guide to pronunciation: “(Ee-gor)”. Because that’s really going to help the film’s commercial prospects if you can say the title properly.

So, I’d recommend Igor for its unusual character design, which reminded me of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, and for the nifty voice work, which also includes Jennifer Coolidge, and John Cleese and Eddie Izzard playing mad scientists. (Best moment for Izzard fans: his character is accidentally miniaturized, and tries to deflect the curious attentions of a now-giant rat with “Go away! I’m very important.”)


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