Igby Goes Down (2002)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Burr Steers Burr Steers
Kieran Culkin Kieran Culkin
Claire Danes Claire Danes
Jeff Goldblum Jeff Goldblum
Jared Harris Jared Harris
Amanda Peet Amanda Peet

6.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy Drama, Comedy Of Manners, Coming-Of-Age
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 22, 2005
Burr Steers, who wrote and directed "Igby Goes Down", graduated from the Quentin Tarantino School of Direction. Steers held minor roles in the films "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction" and struck up a lasting friendship with Tarantino, though I believe Steers is the older of the two. Nephew to acclaimed writer and political idealist Gore Vidal, Steers has crafted a deeply moving and incredibly funny film about a boy coming of age. Baring several striking resemblances to "The Catcher in the Rye", this film features several unforgettable performances and one of the most charming young actors out there today.

Kieran Culkin (with each new film, he surpasses his older brother Mac by leaps and bounds) stars as Igby Slocumb, a young boy who is desperately trying to escape the horrors of his everyday life. Susan Sarandon stars as his self-absorbed mother Mimi, and Bill Pullman is his schizophrenic dad Jason. And, in one of the funniest performances of the year, Ryan Phillippe is his hugely political and hugely Republican brother Oliver. In an attempt to forget his life, and escape it, Igby travels to Manhattan to stay with his godfather D.H. (Jeff Goldblum) and his lover Rachel (Amanda Peet). There, while maintaining a relationship with girlfriend Sookie (Claire Danes), Igby learns why he is so unhappy and tries to understand why it is happening to him.

First of all, let me talk about these incredible performances. Kieran Culkin is one of the Top 3 young actors on the market today, and this film, along with "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys", show his ability to choose challenging and worthwhile scripts. Alas, Culkin's performance pales in comparison to the grandeur and expertise found in the two most electrifying performances in the film--Jeff Goldblum as his eccentric godfather and Susan Sarandon as his mother. Goldblum hasn't made a mainstream film in a while and this one goes to show that he's certainly still got it. Bill Pullman is pretty damn funny as Igby's dad, and Claire Danes actually does a decent job as Igby's girlfriend. And, when is Amanda Peet not gorgeous and on-target?

The best thing about this film is that it shows us everything from Igby's perspective...it doesn't skip back and forth from character to character. We see each new character from Igby's eyes, much like we did in "The Catcher in the Rye" from the viewpoint of Holden Caulfield. At the beginning of this film, we see Igby as a boy, a confused teenager trying to adjust in the world. By the end of the film, we see him as someone completely different, a young adult who has lived quite a bit of life since the beginning of the film, who knows what is going on in the world and is willing to accept it.

Academy Award drops are now in order--so, without further ado, I give you a shameless attempt to plug these performances for consideration at the 2003 Academy Awards: Jeff Goldblum (Best Supporting Actor), Susan Sarandon (Best Supporting Actress), Amanda Peet (Best Supporting Actress), Kieran Culkin (Best Actor), Burr Steers (Best Original Screenplay). There. Now, I seriously doubt my opinions are to be taken too seriously, but it was worth a shot.

This is a fantastic film, and should make my end of the year lists, though it might just miss out because of the onslaught of upcoming films that just look fantastic (especially the other Susan Sarandon flick "Moonlight Mile"). If you liked "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys", then this one is right up your alley. And, if you haven't see that one, then see "Igby Goes Down", and then the reverse will be true. Now for the catchy finish -- My thumbs go up for "Igby Goes Down" (if the whole 'thumbs up' thing is trademarked or copyrighted, then I apologize--please don't sue). 9/10.
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