Posted on January 20, 2009 at 8:00 am

In the town of Malaria, anatomy is destiny. Boy babies get their assignments at birth. Those without hunchbacks become evil scientists. Those with hunchbacks become Igors and spend their days saying, “Yes, master,” when ordered to “Throw the switch!”

Malaria was once a happy farming community. But some sort of climate change resulted in constant thunderstorms and now the entire economy depends on evil inventions and the biggest event of the year is the annual evil science fair competition. But not all of the people in Malaria are right for their assigned roles. Dr. Glickenstein (voice of John Cleese) is not a very good evil scientist. His Igor (John Cusack) has the hunchback of an assistant but the heart of an inventor. And the most evil scientist of all, Dr. Schadenfreude (voice of Eddie Izzard) cannot invent anything at all and relies on tricks and spying to steal the inventions of others. Igor, with the help of two assistants he invented, the immortal cat-like Scamper (voice of Steve Buscemi) and a brain in a jar named Brain (voice of Sean Hayes), invents a bride-of-Frankensteinish monster (voice of Molly Shannon). But she, too, turns out not to fit into the role she has been assigned.

The tone of the movie is cheerily macabre, so parents should be cautious about allowing young or especially sensitive children to see it. But for those who are able to be in on the joke, the film has a number of delights, from the Louis Prima songs on the soundtrack to the tweaks and jibes at horror films, “Annie,” and James Lipton’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

Related Tags:


Animation Comedy Fantasy

18 Replies to “Igor”

  1. Do people have to stay the same all their lives, or can people change? Are some people just good and other simply evil? What is good and bad or evil? Are ugly/disabled/handicapped/ugly people bad or dumb and beautiful/popular people good and smart?
    Keeping it simple works well with kids. They will have some pretty good ideas and surprisingly deep insights. Reversing the whole good/evil thing makes it all the more fun. And they will surely see beyond the monster part of it all.
    If nothing else the kids will be exposed to some masterful voice talent. Our local reviewer did not like the movie, but I think he has something against Lois Prima anyway. I think it will be a hit, and a perennial Halloween choice for many years. If nothing else, there may be a reanimation of “The Monster Mash”, the first top 40 hit to which I memorized the lyrics (.. It was a graveyard smash”) – with thanks to Bobby “Boris” Pickett.
    Another suggestion, though less Halloween-y, is Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”. In that movie the question is asked, “Who is the monster, and who is the man?” A great question for movies like this. But be prepared, these movies can start a whole line of moral questioning.

  2. My daughter-in-law and I leftthe movie after about 20 min. with my 3 and 10 yr. old grandsons. “Igor” is a mean spirited and scary movie. There is nothing funny or fun about this horrid little movie-it is not for children

  3. Thanks so much NCMOM and c thro — as I said in my review, the movie is not for very young or sensitive children but the right audience will appreciate its humor and its ultimate lesson, for those who stay to the end, is very sweet. I always encourage families who are uncomfortable with a movie to leave the theater, so I am glad to hear you did that. And I am especially grateful for your comments as that is what makes this site valuable to parents who are making the difficult decision about what is right for their families.

  4. It’s a difficult trick pulling off “scary” in a kids movie, and this one missed by a mile. Nightmare Before Christmas was brilliant because its characters were scary, but fundamentally good and well-intentioned. The characters in Igor are either grudgingly good or unrepentently evil.
    I found “Scamper” the immortal, suicidal rabbit pretty offensive in a PG movie marketed for kids. Let’s be clear – he directly mentions how much he hates his life and then proceeds to successfully (and graphically) kill himself at least twice in the first 15 minutes or so. Later in the movie, something blows a hole in his head and we see the brains “reform” as he comes back to life. How does that not warrant a PG-13??
    For tweens, I’m sure it’s fine… it’s mildly funny, well-animated, and the voice talent is superb (with the exception of Jay Leno… geez, he’s terrible). For younger kids – skip it.

  5. Thanks, bugger. I agree — this film does not have the literary/artistic aspirations of “Nightmare Before Christmas.” It is trying to be more like “Shrek,” but its characters are not as complex or endearing. I agree that this is more for tweens who will enjoy its irreverent humor.

  6. My 7-year-old son loved it, and “got” nearly all of the jokes except those he wasn’t supposed to get. He’s pretty sensitive to scary stuff and especially to anything gory, but this movie is too cartoony to be disturbing to him. I take him to nearly all animated movies (with some exceptions), and he and I were both struck by how flat-out INSANE this movie is. According to the credits it was written by one guy, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he lands in a lunatic asylum! But I mean that in a good way. I mean….a huge monster wreaking destruction while dressed as Little Orphan Annie and singing “Tomorrow”? This, after she was brainwashed by exposure to James Lipton’s “Inside the Actors Studio”? This movie creates its own completely crazy universe, and we enjoyed it.

  7. Thanks, NC Dad! I enjoyed the sheer craziness of it, too, and I loved your comments. I interviewed the screenwriter and he was a very low-key, polite, understated guy — not at all what I’d imagine after seeing the movie!

  8. Personally, I didn’t like it and neither did my children. We were expecting it to have a lighter, more Halloween feel. It was too scary for young children, and too romantic middle years children who don’t like boys/girls yet (at least mine). I really expected more and felt that it was just a cheap attempt for box office cash.

  9. Thanks, Colorado Mama. This is very helpful. I don’t agree that it is a cheap attempt for box office cash — one of the things I liked about it was that is is unabashedly idiocincratic and not the usual homogenized focus-grouped pre-tested multiplex fodder. I tried to make it clear in my review that it is not for everyone and that it is too scary and disturbing for younger children. Your comments provide very useful insights.

  10. My first grade daughter and her best friend were terrified. I felt horrible! We left 25 minutes into the movie. The movie was dark and quite scary with body parts being blown off etc.. I’ve never taken her to see a movie without first reviewing it, so this was my faux pas. Your review was on point. Again, I should have read it first.

  11. Thanks so much for letting us know of your experience, Lisa. This is very helpful to other parents trying to decide if this movie is right for their children. I know it doesn’t help, but it gets less gruesome later in the film!
    You did exactly the right thing and your daughter and her friend will always remember that you protected them. Thanks again, and I hope you will continue to report on your family’s reaction to the movies you see.

  12. 95% of the children I asked who saw the movie said they enjoyed it, and thought it was funny. One of my 4th grade special education students wrote areview of the film, He states that he learned that no matter what your defects are you can make your dreams come true. He also said that he learned that it is not good to lie. As adults it is important to communicate with our children, and try to see things throught their eyes!

  13. I watched the movie, and thought it was wonderful. There is comedy, romance, and evil all mixed into one movie. And Igor, the movie depicted all these in a very fashionable way. I am 16 right now. I thought the meaning that the movie had was wonderful. As mentioned above. Don’t lie, be truthful, everyone has an evil bone, we just choose to act or not act on it etc. Even the evil human being made by Igor said, I’d rather be a good nobody instead of an evil somebody. I think this movie would help many young chlildren. Even if they are scared at first, the parents can talk to them at home about all the different topics it touches on. It would also help some family time. I, personally loved it, the music too was cool.

  14. Thank you so much, Tancred! I agree completely! I so hope this charming film finds its audience and I am thrilled that you saw in it what I did. Thanks so much for a great comment!

  15. Thank you so much for this review. I was going to show it on DVD to my children tonight (ages 2 and 5). If I hadn’t read the review, we would’ve had major sleep problems tonight! Thanks for everyone’s comments. I’ll wait until they’re older.

  16. Ugh, I can’t believe I made it through this movie. The pacing alone was absolutely horrible. I was bored 15 minutes in. The only things I liked were the idea and the character design. It’s like, I wanted to reach in, take the characters, and put them into a better movie. Everything felt forced except the conspiracy political undertones, which don’t need out onto the age bracket it’s… sorta targeted for? I felt like I was in a target whiplash, like 10 executives had all walked in and said different groups they wanted the people to write for. And it wasn’t even that funny, really. I can forgive some poor filmmaking if the film manages to fun, but this was one giant groan for both my inner animation student and my inner desire to be entertained. I can’t remember the last time I watched an animated film and despised it so much.
    I can’t say it’s the worst film ever made, but with so many great animations out there, why bother? There’s not enough laughs to hold it up, and too much crude humor. And this is coming from a childless college student.

  17. Netbug, even though I liked the movie more than you did, I liked your comment even more — very perceptive, very well expressed. Many thanks, and please keep coming back to let me know what you think about the movies you see. I can tell you are knowledgeable about animation!

Comments are closed.

THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik