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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
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by EricDSnider

"Catcher in the wry."
4 stars

As "Igby Goes Down" ended, I said to my friend, "What a good movie." My friend replied, "What a depressing movie."

We're both right. For me, the film's merits -- fine performances, sparkling dialogue, believable pathos -- make up for its overriding dreariness. This may not hold true for others, though, and if a film that begins with two brothers trying to kill their mother seems too dark for you, no one will think less of you for skipping it.

The comedy is dark, and the subject matter is the closest thing to an adaptation of "Catcher in the Rye" that we've seen -- and "Catcher in the Rye" is not a cheerful book.

It's not that Igby, the 18-year-old protagonist of the film, encounters grief, tragedy or hardship in any great measure. In fact, it's the opposite: He's a wealthy, spoiled Manhattan who has never had to deal with anything difficult, whose apathy has gotten him kicked out of a succession of private schools.

What makes the film dismal -- what made my friend call it depressing -- is that Igby, like Holden Caulfield before him, is a pessimist who believes he is a realist. He states in a cavalier manner how he "hates" all sorts of things, ranging from hypocrisy to any number of specific people.

But for a dismal film, "Igby Goes Down," by first time writer/director Burr Steers, is often remarkably funny. Most of the major characters are smart and snarky, and the dialogue is often pricelessly sharp.

Igby is played with surprising depth and insight by Kieran Culkin; here is a kid who understands his character and can play him without overdoing him. In the course of the film, Igby gets smacked or punched by nearly everyone: His domineering mother (Susan Sarandon), his pretentious older brother (Ryan Phillippe), his godfather D.H. (Jeff Goldblum), and various women (Claire Danes and Amanda Peet being the principal two).

By turns entertaining, thoughtful and tragic, "Igby Goes Down" uses bright colors to paint an unpleasant picture. But there is hope for Igby's future, and it's hard to resist the sardonic glee with which the story is told.

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originally posted: 07/04/03 18:06:20
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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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