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
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