Dr. Frankenstein himself could not revive “Igor,” an animated comedy about a hunchbacked lab assistant playing at mad scientist.
A potentially original premise and an eager voice cast led by John Cusack and Molly Shannon are left to decay amid a clunky story vaguely reminiscent of “Monsters, Inc.” and a clutter of cartoon images often resembling visuals rejected from “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.”
Director Tony Leondis (“Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch”) and screenwriter Chris McKenna take a jumble of Hollywood horror cliches and shove them through a meat-grinder to concoct an awkward, unfunny comic twist on the evil-genius genre.
It all starts with a clumsy voiceover introduction by Igor (Cusack), one of the unsung lab gofers who help the kingdom of Malaria’s demented inventors come up with their diabolical creations.
Seems Malaria was once sunny farmland until perpetual storm clouds moved in and choked off the crops — and the inhabitants’ good dispositions. King Malbert (Jay Leno) came up with a new industry — EVIL — and he holds an annual competition to find the nastiest monsters, machines and doodads to extort cash from the rest of the world.
After Igor’s crazy master (John Cleese) snuffs himself in an experiment gone bad, the hunchback seizes the opportunity to become a mad scientist himself by creating a behemoth terror of a woman (Shannon) out of spare parts.
Trouble is: His beast turns out to be a pussycat who calls herself Eva, would never hurt a fly and dreams only of becoming an actress.
With the aid of his other creations, an immortal bunny with a death wish (Steve Buscemi) and a dumbbell brain in a jar (Sean Hayes), Igor races to turn Eva into a malevolent colossus in time for the Evil Science Fair. All the while, Igor battles the machinations of rival madman Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) and his shape-shifting girlfriend (Jennifer Coolidge).
Like Eva herself, the movie is a bizarre mishmash of components. Many of the bug-eyed characters created by Paris’ Sparx Animation Studios look like Burton castoffs, while the idea of a scary realm preying on the real world was handled far more cleverly in “Monsters, Inc.”
The makers of “Igor” somehow decided that cramming in a bunch of Louis Prima songs and having Eva dress up like Little Orphan Annie to croon “Tomorrow” would be funny. It’s not.
There’s nothing truly bad or baneful about any of this. “Igor” is just completely empty of laughs.
Where’s the torch-wielding village mob when you need it?