Igby Goes Down (2002) Poster

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Brilliant Filmmaking and Acting
intuitive711 October 2002
Ten out of ten. One of the greats, with memorable characters you'll think about for days. This great film got caught in MGM/UA distribution purgatory. If it could have busted out of the indy circuit from day one and gotten into general release, it would have been favorably compared with "The Graduate" and Kieran Culkin's performance with Dustin Hoffman's debut performance in that Mike Nichol's classic. MGM/UA blew it.

Culkin is a great young player with a look and resources evoking both Hoffman and Robert Downey. He's naturalistic and great to watch. Smart, funny, urbane writing by first time director Steers is never "on the nose". Yet underneath the evasive, sarcastic stripped down dialogue he pulls hard hitting emotions from his ensemble. Not a false or wasted scene and more than a few really powerful ones. Every player is at the top of their game, from Kieran Culkin to Amanda Peet, Jeff Goldblum to Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman to Claire Danes to Ryan Phillippe. They're obviously guided by a director who knows how to work with an ensemble to get an overall tone.

Igby is the anti Ferris Beuhler - a smart wanna be who's wise mouth and attitude usually piss off those around him - his mother, his brother, his godfather. Torn between those who don't get him and those who do (Peet, Danes), Igby paints all his relationships with the same sarcastic brush, his vulnerability only busting out when he's pushed to the limit. Culkin's perfomance is not to be missed. The key women, Sarandon, Peet and Danes all play fully formed characters. Goldblum is perfect for his role, his usual facile acting style well suited to the South Hampton prince he plays; his best turn in years.

Seers has style and flow, and his final cut is aided by the excellent music choices he and his music supervisor, Nick Harcourt arrived at. Cameron Crowe couldn't do better. The Igby soundtrack is tres alt moderne and every cut is great.

Warning: Actors are blocked (brilliantly) for wide screen format. So this film will suffer from TV / video screen ratios as the Graduate does. Either go see it in the theater NOW or wait for letterbox!
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7/10
A film that will stay with you
FilmOtaku14 July 2003
My first thought when I finished watching this film was, `I can't believe I really enjoyed a film that starred a Culkin.' My subsequent conclusions about the film were not as easily reached.

When I decided to watch this film, I was expecting The Royal Tennenbaums: Part 2. Rich family, the story takes place in a big city, eccentric characters. While both films share these elements, they are very different in that I considered The Royal Tennenbaums to be mostly a comedy; while Igby's few comedic moments are so dark one almost feels badly for chuckling. What this film is really about is family, but not just in the traditional sense. (What is more traditional than a disapproving mother who is more concerned about herself than anyone else in the family, a clinically schizophrenic father, and two brothers: the elder a narcissist (if not practical) and the younger, a rebellious 16 year old who is forced to change schools more often than most of us change our Glade Plug-Ins.) It is about family in any sense: Friends, strangers, anyone Igby encounters and tries to gain acceptance from.

Culkin's Igby, who looks like a waifish Harry Potter without the `imp factor', is an extremely conflicted character. We have seen rebellious types portrayed ad nauseum in films for decades, but it is a rare occasion when this person is both sympathetic and extremely intelligent. The character draws you in enough that you actually want to know why he acts the way he does, and you truly want him to find happiness. Unfortunately, it appears that when a door opens, it slams just as quickly. Culkin is truly fantastic in this role. He shoulders a character that is both intelligent enough to defend himself, yet vulnerable enough to give the impression of fragility. The rest of the cast is also decent, particularly Jeff Goldblum as D.H., a larger than life character who is conflicted in his own right. The story was just complicated enough to keep me very interested, while endearing and thought-provoking enough for me to reflect on it long after it was over.

I'm not entirely sure who I would recommend this film to, but if you are looking for a thought-provoking drama with some great acting, dialogue and story line I would definitely check this movie out. It has received some rave reviews and I believe they are well-deserved.
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Smart movie with good performances
Danny_G1316 June 2003
There's no question aspects of this are quite brutal. But the theme of the story dictates they would be so.

Igby Goes Down is about a kid in nowhere's land. He doesn't know where he's going in life and responds to this by being a rebel in everything. Add to this his parental instability with a schizophrenic father and a tyrannical mother and you can understand why he'd be a little mixed up.

In many ways it is a coming of age story, but in others it is too dark to be that. Indeed there is an ambivalence of themes with hope and despair featured in equal measure.

As Igby, Kieran Culkin excels. He's outstanding, the best thing in the movie - which given the quality of his peers, such as a sinister and agenda-ridden Jeff Goldblum, a monstrous and hierarchial Susan Sarandon, a confused and tortured Bill Pullman and a squeaky clean upstart in Ryan Phillippe, is no mean feat at all.

Performances are uniformly excellent, the story involving, and the themes well explored.

Well done all round.
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8/10
Surprisingly good
Jose A. Narbona11 October 2003
I was very impressed by the movie and all the actors taking part in it. The story is very rich and allows the spectator to get emotionally involved in multiple ways. There is a good thing about a movie that finishes and leaves you with the feeling of wanting to know more about many of the characters in the movie. I particularly love all the unexpected moments, lines and situations in the movie without being exagerated or out of place. Excellent, for people who wants to see something different and still mainstream.
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8/10
Sarcastic and vitriolic
rwirtz14 September 2003
I had to drive to effin Antwerp, Belgium to see this movie, because it was taken out of Dutch cinemas after running just for one week. And that is something that I don't understand, or maybe I do, because this is not the typical Hollywood feel-good movie. The story could have been based on a early nineties novel by Jay McInerney or Bret Easton Ellis, but it is an original screenplay by writer and director Burr Steers. The mood is very dark, the acting is top shelf and the oneliners are sharp as razorblades. Kieran Culkin and Ryan Philippe are perfectly (type)casted and the choice of music is plain wonderful. The scene where Igby runs off through Central Park accompanied by Coldplay's Don't Panic is close to perfection. I enjoyed this movie very much and I think it paints a very accurate picture of the lives of spoiled, rich kids. Go see it!
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Coming of age for the new millenum.
JANorris23 September 2002
This film was amazing. The acting, the characters, the plot and the visual story were all so refined. This was a film that defines the new adage 'Quiet is the new loud' and sets a new standard for coming of age films. Much like The Royal Tenenbaums, this film was full of a dysfunctional family that although unlike anything in most viewers' experience, was real and honest and touched a part of all of us. Also like the aforementioned film, this movie's soundtrack was so well picked and so well executed, I was overwhelmed.

Burr Steers, a first time screenwriter and director? Is he perhaps channeling his uncle, Gore Vidal, to write and direct this amazing tale? I can't wait to see more from him. Kieran Culkin is equally as promising. He acted the part with such a surreal mix of sullen intelligence, backwards bravery and touching empathy that Igby came to life the moment he hit the screen. Jeff Goldblum and Susan Sarandon were also perfectly cast and were outstanding... I can't mention each of them as there was too much to gush about.

I highly recommend that you run out and see this, but bring a tissue and plan to go celebrate the irony of life and all it's imperfections after you go!
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8/10
Holden Caulfield with a Harry Potter scarf
Rogue-3216 September 2002
I'm very pleased to see other reviewers comparing Kieran Culkin's character Jason/Igby to The Catcher in the Rye's Holden Caulfield - while watching the film I was thinking the same thing, much to writer/director Burr Steers' credit. This is THE Social Commentary movie I have been waiting to see for a long time now - fearless, witty, arch, poignant without being sentimental, and, best of all, the characters are not one-dimensional, they all live and breathe and we feel the agony they are suffering behind their socially privileged masks.

Culkin is especially brilliant (and so sad, with his Harry Potter scarf - a young wizard without any magic), but everyone shines here - Sarandon, Pullman, Danes, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Jeff "how-can-I-be-any-creepier" Goldblum, and of course Jared Harris, who positively reeks eccentricity without even having to open his mouth (but when he does, it's always good too). A fine first film from a director/writer who definitely bears watching.
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Very interesting debut by Burr Steers with uniformly great performances
Camera Obscura18 November 2006
This film doesn't make us feel for any of its characters, but it's so full of memorable vignettes, it's hard to forget about this. It's dark and depressing but at the same time consistent in tone and so full of wonderful performances it just sticks in your memory.

Igby's life consists of one disappointment after another. We soon meet his ruinantly self-absorbed mother (Susan Sarandon), who treats her boys like full-grown adults. 'I call her Mimi because 'Heinous One' would be a bit cumbersome,' Igby remarks. And there's his schizophrenic dad (Bill Pullman) who has long since been confined to a 'home for the befuddled'. Igby's and his preppy brother Oliver (Ryan Phillippe) have nothing but contempt for their mother. When Igby has just been kicked out - again - of his latest prep school, he is sent to a military academy by his mother, but he swipes her credit card and absconds to an airport hotel in the Midwest. Soon he is dishonorably discharged and sucks his way in by his mother's new wealthy friend D. H. Baines, wonderfully played by Jeff Goldblum, who almost seems to play himself.

Two women play a crucial role in his life, both of them he meets at a cocktail party at "D.H."'s lavish Hamptons home. There's Rachel, a memorable role by Amanda Peet, truly astonishing. I knew her face, but I cannot recall other roles of her. And there is Sookie Sapperstein (Claire Danes), a waitress at the party and couple of years older college student, with whom Igby falls in love. But his brother is becoming a romantic rival or Sookie and when Igby crashes in D.H's fancy Manhattan apartment, in which Rachel is taking residence, he becomes entangled in an ever more downward spiral.

First-time director Burr Steers, who also scripted, filled this one with some very smart, observative and acidic dialog, and Kiera Culkin shows he can carry a film with a very good performance. And where has he been the last four years? Since this one he hasn't appeared in any other films. On the IMDb message boards there are some hilarious speculations about how he is supposedly "on weed". I don't know about that. He's probably going through some rough times, but I hope he'll be back soon. It would be a shame to lose an actor like him.

Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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10/10
Weird and Wonderful!
Spaceygirl5 January 2005
Kieran Culkin astounds in "Igby goes down". While the supporting cast (Jeff Goldblum, Susan Sarandon, Ryan Phillipe and Claire Danes) are predictably good, he turns in an electrifying performance. The script is simply superb and the backdrop of New York is wonderful. The master stroke is the use of Rory Culkin as a younger Igby which lends an authentic air of continuity. The only disappointment is Amanda Peet who, as usual, overacts and hams it up as the highly-strung on/off girlfriend. Jeff Goldblum is surprisingly sexy in a role which he seems very comfortable with while Bill Pullman is surprisingly weighty in a minor yet key role which he pulls off extremely well.
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10/10
On the contrary, I thought Igby was excellent!
esc_oblivion14 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Because of the faulty review I read I feel I must submit another giving a better picture of the film then the other reviewer provided. All those things he said that weren't clear to him seemed very clear to me. Yes, Susan Sarandon's character did give birth to both of the boys; except that one was illegitimate by Jeff Goldblums character, and the other was her real son from her husband who was driven crazy by her meddling. Whereas the other reviewer felt that Igby was a mess of a movie and compared it to The Royal Tennenbaums (which I agree was an utter mess and thoroughly unenjoyable), I felt that Igby was a refreshing black comedy. Which is exactly what you get when you cross comedy and drama. It has a lot of heart, excellent and insightful direction, real wit and sharpness in it's approach to the material... I thoroughly enjoyed it. It came across as a cerebral experience for me. Highly recommended.
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