Rated 3.0

In the benighted land of Malaria, a hunchbacked evil-scientist lab assistant (voice by John Cusack) dreams of becoming an evil scientist himself. Director Anthony Leondis and writer Chris McKenna’s movie is another piece of animation inflation—an idea for a perfectly fine 7-minute short padded out to feature length, replacing pace and momentum with a stagnant array of wisecracks and in-jokes. Still, it’s fairly diverting; Leondis gives it a Corpse Bride/Nightmare Before Christmas look of colorful grotesquerie, and the good voice cast (Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Sean Hayes, Molly Shannon, Jennifer Coolidge, etc.) makes it an entertaining piece of illustrated radio. It’s not really for kids—partly because it’s so gruesome, but mainly because the jokes are aimed way over their heads, at 30- to 40-year-olds.