Igor, the animated comedy about a madlab hunchbacked assistant has opened to mediocre box-office and generally less than enthusiastic reviews. The film sneaked into theaters last week without fanfare, appearing well after for the School’s Out summer season and perhaps a tad too early for a Halloween connection. Meanwhile, Dread Central reports that a tie-in toy line has been canned.
The film begs comparison to similarly monster-minded animated features, like the Tim Burton-produced The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride, or Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Shrek. Most critics this week couldn’t help alluding to one or more of these, always to Igor’s detriment. Mike Mayo of The Washington Post says, “Igor attempts to do with horror stereotypes and clichés what Shrek did with fairy tales. Though it has clever moments, it doesn't come close to the polished animation, wit and originality of the big green guy”. Susan Walker of The Toronto Star writes, “ Igor, like the Frankenstein's monster at the centre of its tired plot, looks like something cobbled together out of used, very used, parts… its feeble satire will be of little interest to the Shrek set.”
Tracking reviews, we note that Jeanette Catsoulis of The New York Times calls Igor “an animated twist on the Frankenstein story that never sparks to life”. There is faint praise from Roger Moore of The Orlando Sentinel (via The Detroit Free Press) who calls the film a “decently animated misfire”, while David Germain of the Associated Press (via The Detroit News) is downright blunt, tagging Igor as “clunky… awkward… completely empty of laughs.” John Cozzoli of Zombos Closet of Horror reviews the film from a classic horror fan’s perspective, concluding that Igor “is neither exciting or emotionally satisfying”.
A bit more forgiving, and taking the film’s target audience into consideration, Michael Phillips of The Chicago Tribune reports that “Igor isn't particularly funny… But my kid went with it, and I had a fairly good time.” Kurt Loder of MTV.com finds that “the picture suffers from a humor deficit”, yet a couple of 10-year olds at the screening he attended “cackled and hooted through most of the movie” and its success may, indeed, “rely only on them.”
Considering an apparent consensus of downbeat reviews, one is startled by the unequivocal rave of reviewer Nomad posted on Dread Central, pronouncing the film “an instant cult classic… With nearly non-stop laughs from an amazing cast, an excellently written, thoroughly surprising story line with images you never thought you’d see in an animated feature before and top notch animation”.
Igor is written by Chris McKenna and directed by Tony Leondis. It features an all-star cast of voices led by John Cusack. John Cleese — Dr. Waldman in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein — is also aboard, as is Steve Buscemi whose character, an immortal rabbit with suicidal tendencies, is cited in most reviews as a show stealer.