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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.05%
Average: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 20.24%
Total Crap: 17.86%

5 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Igby Goes Down
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Catcher In The Rye For Dyslexics"
1 stars

Ever see a film that was so busy being quirky, that it forgot it actually had characters and a story for them to tell? If not, then I certainly don’t recommend you rush out to see this waste of time and talent. One doesn’t have to imagine the screenwriter sitting at his computer thinking up new ways to make his players a little more idiosyncratic with every appearance, because you can practically hear him typing away with every passing scene that “this is the line” or “this is the trait” that’s going to make these people and this film so memorable. Memo to writer/director Burr Steers – it still has to be FUNNY! Otherwise you’re left with a Wes Anderson film gone horribly wrong.

No one will ever get the rights to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Stop hoping, it ain’t gonna happen, folks. Best you can hope for is a filmmaker to take inspiration from the book and mold it into a feasible entertainment that evokes memories, but never quite captures the original’s flavor and spirit. Steer’s Holden Caufield is named Igby, one of those smart-ass discontent teenagers who seemingly hates everything and everyone around him while clearly having no direction for his own life. Culkin Part Deux, Kieran, plays the title role who plays dumb and acts smart, using the “F” word like it’s the only adjective he knows. (Never before have I seen the Big Daddy Expletive used so laboriously.)

The film opens the way we wish Stepmom would have ended with Susan Sarandon having a plastic bag put over her head. In all her Mommie Dearest glory, Sarandon plays Igby’s socialite mother whose allegiance to older brother, Olivier (Ryan Phillippe), the Republican who used to sport a Nazi youth haircut. Igby’s father (Bill Pullman) no longer resides with the family because he’s a schizophrenic who frequently embarrassed mommy. But wait, there’s more.

Having been placed in more military and prep schools than Damien Thorne in Heaven, Igby escapes his latest institution and gets a job from his generous Godfather, D.H. Baines (Jeff Goldblum), who hands out hundred dollar bills the way some do business cards. For residence, Igby enlists the services of D.H.’s mistress, Rachel (Amanda Peet), who shares the D.H. sponsored loft with a transvestite performance artist (Jared Harris). All this must take place behind the backs of the mother, brother and godfather, even though Steers’ juggling of characters and locations make it impossible to understand why no one seems to know where Igby is, even though people always seem to know.

It’s a rare event to see a film where a rooting interest can be acknowledged in nary a single on-screen personality. We’ve cheered on mobsters, morally-bankrupt high-ranking officials, philanderers and even serial killers, but no one in Igby Goes Down is worth raising our hands for except to smack ‘em in the mouth, something that happens all too often to our “hero” whom we watch get beat up more often than Eddie Deezen on a date with Tawny Kitaen.

Who in this film is worth our smiles or tears? Certainly not Igby, who is a dour chap far less clever than he thinks, which immediately garners hatred from anyone in the audience with half a brain. Not Sookie Sapperstein (Claire Danes who, yes, quiver-lip-cries again), the perfect-joint-rolling-vegetarian who develops a relationship with Igby only to unconvincingly fall under the obvious snakecharm of Oliver in a poorly handled seduction scene that finds Phillippe dipping into his Cruel Intentions well. Not dear ol’ mom dying of Cancer whose eccentricity extends to her anger management of sitting on the maid’s face with a pillow. Not the drug-dealing drama queen or the drug-taking mistress who can’t decide whether to screw Igby or beat him. Even just as we think that Goldblum’s D.H. may be Igby’s (and our) saving grace, he breaks down and beats the kid to a bloody pulp. This is the kind of film that would pull us to choose between empathizing with Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin-Laden and then introduce Adolf Hitler because it could probably tell some amusing anecdotes about his one ball.

Igby Goes Down will go down in the tradition of such films as Full Frontal, Woman On Top and XXX as films with sexual sounding titles. Sorry, were you expecting me to compare it with quality cinema? There’s nothing to grasp onto here except the forced quirkiness and the sad realization of a talented all-name cast reduced to a muddled narrative worthy of maybe a smile an hour. It’s a mean-spirited film made by someone who surely read The Catcher in the Rye but clearly suffers from dyslexia.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/13/02 03:13:23
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/14/18 Anne the scene when mom dies, what Igby's reaction is, made this 2 stars from one 2 stars
5/28/08 Liza Well concieved quircky coming of age film. I loved it and I usually hate dark comedy. 4 stars
9/22/07 Movie watcher Cynical, empty and hilarious. A dyslexic Catcher in the Rye- what the hell does that mean?! 4 stars
4/01/07 MickT The lead character can't act for shit & it ruined the film. 2 stars
12/16/06 eileen holloran The characters were unrealistic and shallow. story line too fragmented. Lousy movie 1 stars
3/05/06 Simon Some smart dialogue and insight, but it's narcissistic, hollow, blindly dark, uninspired... 3 stars
6/09/05 Rebecca Claire Danes (who I liked in Romeo&Juliet) was unconvincing as a quirky girl 3 stars
3/04/05 Lori Couldn't watch it all the way through. I agree 100% with the EFC review. Total crap. 1 stars
3/03/05 dbx not intelligent at all. but funny to see Claire Danes act like she has read "razor's edge" 1 stars
2/19/05 Captain Craig I rented it for a dollar. It was a waist of a dollar! 1 stars
7/13/04 Mitch Itslightly compares to The Catcher and The Rye to a video 4 stars
6/15/04 Lisa Annoying, dull, characters weren't believable 1 stars
4/22/04 Zeynep I was shocked to see these bad reviews. I loved this movie! It was quirky and had depth. 5 stars
2/11/04 drew paternoster Not verygood, not very bad 3 stars
11/29/03 I've Seen Better Film on Teeth Kieran was fantastic. Pretty funny movie. 5 stars
11/03/03 Jessica Stellar acting by all involved plus great dialogue and heartfelt moments equals great movie 5 stars
9/16/03 Franky wonderfully made independent film, Culkin does a strikingly good job as Igby, note sarandon 5 stars
9/09/03 Popcorn Hunny H.B critics totally don't get this movie. It's what you call "black humor" Look it up. 5 stars
8/04/03 Kia Ora Really good movie! Funny and oh so cold at the same time. 5 stars
7/29/03 Yoshiahu in So Cal Cold and Empty 2 stars
7/09/03 natasha_theobald I was pulled into the story despite myself and found it oddly affecting 4 stars
6/26/03 Steve G This film gave me the opportunity to appreciate the decor of the cinema. 1 stars
6/21/03 Sebastian E. Great movie! 5 stars
4/03/03 rue the whirl if you want feel-good characters, go watch your dingleberries 5 stars
3/31/03 Vitality1 Kieran was fantastic. Pretty funny movie 4 stars
3/22/03 Skankin' inThePit Good movie, the beginning really gets you hooked into it 5 stars
3/18/03 Blabity blah Amazing coming of age film. Great acting. Culkin and Sarandon should have been nominated. 5 stars
3/14/03 Goofy Maxwell Igby's solid--gets Rodney Kinged & still gets play wit 2 fine honeys. 4 stars
3/08/03 Andrew Carden Excellent Coming-Of-Age Film; Culkin & Sarandon are Perfect. 5 stars
3/01/03 wah i want to marry igby. he is a sex god. 5 stars
2/18/03 Lord David Reviewer seems totally incompetent - IGD is aces above average teen flick 5 stars
2/16/03 Steve Campbell I kept hoping he would get hit by a bus... 1 stars
2/11/03 beppy I wonder if the true meaning of all the films you review goes over your head? 5 stars
2/11/03 kei brillent 4 stars
2/10/03 Collegiate Facist Reviewers clearly lack the sophistication to appreciate such a clever, rare film 5 stars
2/10/03 Josh Offbeat film, touching and unusual 4 stars
2/09/03 Alfred Best film that I should have seen last year 5 stars
2/06/03 Blabity blah I loved it. Kieran Culkin should get a nomination for his work. 5 stars
1/24/03 ilikemovies Igby is the best movie of 2002 5 stars
1/22/03 Reini Urban Top 5 2003 (Open Hearts, Secretary, Igby, Good Girl, Rules of Attraction, Solaris) 5 stars
12/19/02 Jack Hey jackass, make sure you get the characters straight before ripping a film. 4 stars
12/17/02 hilary thornton Why did Damien thorne die in the final conflict? 5 stars
11/19/02 Jessica Someone thinks people in general are hateful creatures and decided to make a film about it. 4 stars
11/13/02 Paomi A wonderful film...the reviewer doesn't get it. 5 stars
11/07/02 Stevie J one of the year's best movies... what the fuck is wrong with you critics? 5 stars
11/05/02 Michael Buehler Segments are rather interesting, but overall, disjointed, chaotic, and rather pointless. 3 stars
11/04/02 a viewer obviously funded by an unoriginal rich dick with nothing to say 1 stars
10/09/02 Hal Depressing and cynical, with only a tiny speck of warmth, and it ain't enough. 2 stars
10/05/02 ryan phillippe gets hit by a car and it rules this movie was great. It was fun to watch, and well put together. 5 stars
10/01/02 marco guerra unfortunately not a good film but pretty good acting beside the main character. 3 stars
9/29/02 sarah crapola, suuuuunnn. 2 stars
9/17/02 Chancey Sugarpants Obnoxious crap movie. 1 stars
9/16/02 stacey fucking wicked man, wicked!!!! 5 stars
9/13/02 Lauren not great, but better than all the other crap out there 3 stars
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  13-Sep-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Burr Steers

Written by
  Burr Steers

  Kieran Culkin
  Claire Danes
  Jeff Goldblum
  Amanda Peet
  Ryan Phillippe
  Bill Pullman

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