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Overall Rating
3.2

Awesome28.57%
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 Chris Parry

"Lifestyles of the rich and talky."
3 stars

Let's be clear on one thing - sparkling wit and comedic cynicism is fun, but it's not character. In fact, most of the time it isn't even realistic. Which is why Igby Goes Down, which is a movie that many would find alternately infuriating and compelling, fails. For the most part.

Igby (Kieran Culkin) is a clever kid. He's smart as a whip, can sit anyone on their ass with the blow of one smart ass one-liner, and he knows all sorts of ways to get out of doing as he's told. That could make him a modern version of Ferris Bueller's Day Off... on the other hand, it could also make him a modern day version of some rich kid that mommy didn't hug enough who couldn't me a worse example of the human race if he habitually injected mercury into kittens.

"I'm drowning in assholes."

Me? I go with the latter option. Igby's a prick. Yes, his parents (Bill Pullman and Susan Sarandon) are messed up. Yes, his brother (Ryan Phillipe in a carbon copy of his character from Cruel Intentions) is a soulless ghoul. Yes, the schools he's supposed to be attending are sadistic places of teenage torment - but Igby's a prick, so frankly he never earns my sorrow. Or empathy. Or concern. Or interest.

And that's why, despite this being a well-written, well-performed, well-shot, well-cast film, I ultimately couldn't have cared less about it. Igby Goes Down is not something I'll be owning any time soon. First time writer/director Burr Steers certainly has a flair for the pithy remark and devastating comeback, but just as the writers of TV's The Gilmore Girls have a way of doing, he so loads up every sentence with pith that it all comes off sounding completely foreign to any normal everyday person.

"How many Vassar professors and intellectual theologians beget nymphomaniacal, pseudo-Bohemian Japs?"

Case in point.

So Igby is the youngest of two children born of a wealthy family. Unfortunately, that wealth has only served to destroy any sense of humanity that his parents have, sending his father insane and his mother bitter in the process. They send him to school, he gets booted out. They send him to military school, he plots an escape. They try to send him to another school and he instead goes to New York and hides out with his godfather's junkie artist mistress (Amanda Peet).

Depression ensues.

"If heaven is such a wonderful place then how come being crucified is such a big fucking sacrifice?"

Ultimately you can make a movie one of two ways - either you put us in a fantasy world and let us go with it, or you put us in reality and let us empathize. Igby Goes Down tries to have it both ways, and it never really works as a result. With the exception of Bill Pullman's portrayal of a man crumbling into schizophrenia, nobody else has the slightest resemblance to reality, with most characters coming across like mean-spirited, hopelessly tainted creatures of wealth and privilege. Is that the point - that wealth creates sub-humans? Because if it is, the point is lost as the non-wealthy characters in the film try to out-nasty those who could buy and sell them in a heartbeat. In the end, even an assisted suicide can't extract real feeling out of these people.

"Turtle. He was my best buddy. Then his rifle back-fired and blew his face off. We all learned a valuable lesson about weapon maintenance that day."

Oh sure, there are a few scenes that you'll revel in as the linguistic gymnastics ricochet off the corners of the frame, but unless you're a character from Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead, you'll likely not give a damn beyond the sheer spectacle of word-play involved in this film. Save it for a low-priced rental.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6126&reviewer=1
originally posted: 06/04/04 09:46:48
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Sep-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Jun-2003


Directed by
  Burr Steers

Written by
  Burr Steers

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



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