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Igby Goes Down

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Igby Goes Down

Starring: Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes
Director: Burr Steers
Rated: R
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: September 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

IGBY GOES DOWN is THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS LITE. A laughless black comedy with no characters worth caring about, the story concerns the topic that Hollywood knows best, seriously dysfunctional families that are vicious, cruel and crazy. Drugs are everywhere, and you'll need a roadmap to figure out who is having sex with whom -- Hint: If they're married, they're not doing it with each other.

As the opening credits roll, Jason "Igby" Slocumb Jr. (Kieran Culkin) and his older brother, Oliver (Ryan Phillippe), are busying killing their mother, whom the boys always call Mimi (Susan Sarandon). She is inconveniencing them by not dying promptly, so they put a plastic bag over her head to speed up the action of the poison. The movie itself is quite deadly and, like Mimi, takes way too long to finally give up the ghost.

Igby has wasted his life being kicked out of one school after another. The film wastes its large and talented cast, although Claire Danes and Jeff Goldblum do manage to rise above the deadly dull material.

Since the movie itself has such little appeal, I found myself pondering the assumptions that go into movie scripts these days -- in addition to the belief that dangerously crazy families are the norm. Igby, a minor, has sex with adults, but no one ever thinks about statutory rape. Other recent films like TADPOLE also ignored it. If the minor were female, it would probably be different. Drug usage is viewed as natural. Finally, Oliver is a Republican, which means that he is frequently referred to as a fascist. If he were a Democrat, he'd probably be treated as some sort of secular saint. Maybe the movie wasn't all bad. It did give me time to meditate on Hollywood's view of the world.

IGBY GOES DOWN runs a long 1:37. It is rated R for "language, sexuality and drug content" and would be acceptable for high school seniors and older.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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