Edison & Leo Neil Burns

Edison & Leo Neil Burns
The villain of Neil Burn’s stop-motion fantasy Edison & Leo is an inventor named George T. Edison. Yes, George T. Edison. The fact that he is credited with inventing the light bulb and the motion picture camera suggests some similarities with a certain Thomas A. Edison, although the fact that he has a son named Faraday confuses matters even more.

Whoever he is, he sure is evil. In the opening scenes, while seeking the knowledge of the mystical rituals of an Aboriginal tribe to heal his dying wife, Edison greedily steals their Book of Life and during the getaway, his wife is electrocuted. His son, Leo, who’s also electrocuted, has been rebuilt as half-man, half-robot, described by Edison as "his greatest invention.” As Leo grows up, he finds that anything he touches (or kisses) gets electrocuted. Meanwhile, Edison’s villainous megalomania increases.

Two questions occurred to me repeatedly as I watched Edison & Leo: who was this movie made for and who could possibly enjoy it? Edison & Leo begins like a kids’ movie but its tone eventually darkens enough to include several sex jokes and some pretty nasty violence (including a beheading).

Despite the adult content, the characters embody the same two-dimensional archetypes laid down in the "gospel according to Disney,” and the voice actors (including Powers Boothe and Carly Pope) recite their dialogue in patronizing tones, as if reading a storybook aloud to a particularly slow-witted child.

The herky-jerky stop motion is fun for about five minutes but the characters are given so many annoying mannerisms (aggressive hand-gesturing, eyebrow-raising, etc.) that even it becomes wearying. Edison & Leo doesn’t work as a family film, it doesn’t work as an engrossing fantasy and it doesn’t work as irony. (TVA)