With a barrage of ultra cute characters ruling animated worlds these days, one wonders if macabre characters would appeal if not coming from the creatively dark mind of Tim Burton. With wonderful animation flicks like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride being tentpoles for animation touching on darker themes and realms (as with festival darlings such as Fear(s) of the Dark), Igor would find itself in good company, and it lives up in certain terms to belong.
Voiced by the excellent John Cusack, Igor is a typical hunchback and because of his physical disability and rights (or lack thereof) in the land of Malaria, Igors in general have a single career path, and that is slave to the scientists of the land. Yearning to be one of the greatest scientists one day despite societal perception and prejudice, opportunity arises when his master kicks the bucket, and he seizes the opportunity to do what the scientific community cannot do - create life.
Of course in order to clinch the yearly accolade of scientist of the year, the creation must have a mean killing/horrific streak, but Igor's creation of Eva (Molly Shannon) is actually that of a kind soul with an addiction for the theatre and the arts. Not very suited to scaring and beating up opponents. So in a tussle between the actual being and her intended role comes an unlikely romantic story that somehow managed to touch the hearts, resembling how in relationships one tend to change the other subconsciously (or consciously for some), and vice versa.
Adversary comes in the form of scam scientist Dr Schadenfreude (Eddie Lizard) and his chameleon wife Jacklyn (Jennifer Coolidge) who scheme to steal Eva away from Igor and fulfill her intended evil purpose, and it's up to Igor and his crazy creations and sidekicks Scamper (Steve Buscemi) and Brian/Brain (Sean Hayes) to save the day. Some of the best lines were reserved for the banter between Scamper and Brain, and I thought these two characters actually lift the movie when it fell prey to the tried and tested story formula, providing some genuinely funny moments when you least expected.
The animation here really challenged the notion of having everything aesthetically pleasing. Here, the filmmakers went for god-awful ugly, but yet having the magical effect of making it appealing. As a reminder not to judge a book by its cover, one can often feel repulsed by the lack of proportions in Eve's build, but what she lacks for on the outside, gets immensely compensated by the good on the inside. And it is this cheery disposition in spite of a gruff exterior, that exudes throughout the movie as well.
With a surprisingly star-studded supporting voice cast with the likes of Christian Slater, Jay Leno, John Cleese and even Arsenio Hall, Igor may not have scaled new heights in animation techniques nor with its fairy-tale story, but for what it lacked it made it up for with plenty of heart. And I guess for an animated story, that will always be premium and will always matter.