Well, here's another animated movie. It's another fantasy tale set in a world based on human pop culture, where an outcast defies the odds to rise above his preordained station in life. This time it's not in the ocean, or the jungle, or fairy tale land, or an anthill, or in historical China, or anywhere else that's been done twice before by competing animation empires.
In the kingdom of Malaria (cute name), Igors assist mad scientists with their evil inventions. They are all named Igor and all have hunchbacks. But when one Igor (John Cusack)'s scientist kills himself with his latest experiment, Igor and the other freaks must invent the ultimate evil monster to save the kingdom from… whatever.
You can just imagine Cusack rolling in the studio. He's really into it, sounding more enthusiastic than his aloof romantic sage characters ever look in live action movies.
The animation kind of looks like stop motion, which is refreshing. It's still CGI but at least it looks more like Nightmare Before Christmas than Shrek the Third.
There are poop jokes for kids, although at least the metaphors challenge their young minds a little bit. There are references like schadenfreude for adults. The little asides are more clever than the bulk of the plot.
The tone is innocently macabre, but not totally dark. There's suicide and killing, but the characters are only trying to be evil because that's what's done, not because they understand how bad it is. And don't worry, there's a moral.
The acting thing is a real stretch. Igor's monster gets the personality of an actor. It's still about trying to make her evil, but it feels like the contrived business subplot in a romantic comedy, like they just threw some device in to forward the A story.
There are sweet moments of kindess and the aforementioned lesson learning. It follows the standard plot structure to the tee, for better or worse. It's mostly tolerable for this sort of thing, and certainly easy to sleep through for frazzled parents.