Igby Goes Down (USA; 97min.)

directed by: Burr Steers
starring: Kieran Culkin; Claire Danes; Jeff Goldblum; Jared Harris; Amanda Peet
Igby Goes Down
Bob says: "I'm in complete agreement with Laura on this one. If you recall what I wrote about TADPOLE I wasn't exactly crazy about it. I can't remember if I used the word "garbage," but I was certainly thinking it. "Igby" really does a better job of ripping off Catcher in the Rye, and not just because of its darkness, although I think that's a big part of it for me. The cast is absolutely great, with people playing both against type and in a few cases pushes the roles they've been traditionally cast into a bit further in odd directions, and all of it works very well.

"I was uncomfortable going to see it because of the presence of a member of the C... family. I try to avoid movies with them in the casts, as I don't like the idea of supporting a family that seems to see itself as a cute kid factory -- one gets too old to work and they cook up a new one. But I have to admit, the kid does a great job, and unlike his big brother, he may in fact have a future. I'd heard he was just awful in that Catholic schoolboy movie, but thankfully I read the posts about it and steered clear, and of course, my policy would have made it unlikely that I'd see it anyway."
Emily says: "And though I stayed throughout the ending of the film, I must agree I found it completely unredeeming, trite, boring even. I sat with my sister rolling my eyes through the whole thing because it was so predictable and poorly acted. Culkin's teen angst seemed very forced and completely uninteresting to me. I also give this movie 0 cats and highly recommend avoiding spending time or money on it. " A Dead Cat
Greg says: "Sorry to be the contrarian here, but I really did not like this movie at all. So much so that I walked out about 45 minutes into it. I found it really cliche and rote. The disgruntled prep-school boy trying to be rebellious was a pretty tired plot line, and it was handled with no originality or sympathy here. It had nothing interesting to offer the first 45 minutes so I figured it could only get worse. I especially found the Caulkin kid really annoying -he just seemed like a snobby kid who had no other interesting characteristics or depth to him. I saw the Altar Boys movie too and didn't like him there either. He played pretty much the same character. I just could not sympathise or find anything intruiging in his character, so that ruined it for me I guess. Anyways, that's my 2 cents, but I would strongly recommend finding a better use of you time than seeing this film." A Dead Cat!
Hilary says: "I, too, was less than impressed with this film, though agree that the potential was there.

"I agree that Goldblum and Sarandon were great. I definitely thought it was one of Jeff Goldblum's best performances. Kieran Culkin did well considering the mediocre script. I've liked him in most things I've seen him in so far and if he avoids falling the trap of playing Holden Caulfield-esque disaffected teens like Igby over and over her should be okay. Loved his little brother Rory as the Young Igby -- I've had a soft spot for him since YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. I also enjoyed Bill Pullman, though (like Jane) was puzzled when Igby was revealed to be his godfather's son, as the resemblance between Pullman and the Culkin boys is so marked.

"On the other hand, I disagree regarding Amanda Peet and Clare Danes. Peet was far too predictable and I much preferred Jared Harris' performance as essentially the same character, the junkie/artist. Danes is another actress I can really do without, and she did nothing to impress me here. Strained facial gestures are her acting mainstays and are just funny as the film wears on. And if I see Ryan Phillipe in one more film in his Hitler Youth persona I'm going to have to drive to his house and smack him. He either needs to actually learn how to act or give it up altogether."
Jane says: "I enjoyed the film a great deal. I do favor black comedies, and this one was nice and dark. The script contained alot of fabulous caustic reparte, expertly delivered by the well chosen cast. I was impressed with Amanda Peet's take on a drug addled mistress, as I didn't expect as much from her, considering who her cast mates were.

"As far as the Caulkin crew comment goes, my understanding is this: now that the control freak/trying-to-live-vicariously-through-his children father is out of the way, the kids seem fairly happy. The interviews I have read indicate they love acting - I am glad they will continue to pursue roles, because I think as a whole they are very talented.

"One negative note: I did not like the plot turn about Igby being the godfather's child for more than one reason. It had no emotional impact considering it was just thrown in at the end as if it were a side note . It should have been explored much earlier in a more in depth manner. Not to mention Kiernan looks a heck of alot like Bill Pullman, who played his 'real' father, and looks nothing like the godfather, Jeff Goldblum."
Laura says: "Igby (Kieran Culkin) watched his father (Bill Pullman) lose his grip with reality under his mother's (Susan Sarandon) withering gaze before he reached his teens. He introduces his older brother (Ryan Phillippe) as 'majoring in pre-Fascism.' Bouncing from one prep school to the next, Igby aspires only to attitude and eventually his mother makes good on a threat to send him to military school. Igby manages to escape that by hiding out in the NYC loft of his godfather's (Jeff Goldblum) mistress (Amanda Peet).

"IGBY GOES DOWN is a pitch black comedy (it opens at the ending, with Igby and his brother assisting their mother's suicide) that's a bit like the anti-TADPOLE - it's the sour to that film's sweet. Kieran Culkin is terrific as a wounded wiseass trying to punch his way out of a glazed-over upper class - he's seen his future as a colleague of AMERICAN PSYCHO Patrick Bateman's and rejects it. Susan Sarandon does a 180 on her MOONLIGHT MILE earth mother and is caustically funny. (Asked why he calls his mother Mimi, Igby replies 'Heinous one is too unwieldy and Medea was taken.' When Igby asks mom why she called him to her deathbed, she replies 'for the comic relief.') Ryan Phillippe gives great support as an Ivy Leaguer showing the early signs of his father's footsteps. Bill Pullman makes dad's breakdown heartbreaking. The terrific cast also includes Claire Danes, Jared Harris and Celia Weston with cameos from the likes of Eric Bogosian, Cynthia Nixon and Elizabeth Jagger (doing a great parody of one of the Hilton sisters).

"IGBY'S ending is no surprise, but getting there is worth the ride. " 3 1/2 cats
Marilyn says: "I did not like this movie as a whole....I liked much of the acting. Bill Pullman is a favorite of mine...he is very subtle and this small role showcased that talent. I felt Ryan had the same face in every scene, no matter what. He was the weakest link for me and may be one of the reasons why I was disappointed. Caulkin did a nice job and I would go to see him again. The overall story was implausible, especially Mom but we do like to make mothers extreme....and the basis for everything that is wrong in the world. I'm sure she was probably behind some dictator's bad behavior. (Just kidding) Was making Mom so ridiculously irritating necessary for Kiernan's problems and then to kill her in the end (or the beginning) the way they did....ugly....and gratuitous. Sorry..." One cat
Nathaniel T. says: "I am quite sure I did not like this one nearly as much as anyone else did.

"Ok, the thing about IGBY is that it had an incredible amount of potential, and it has a wonderful cast (who are almost all aces in this film), but its sloppy, muddled screenplay forced me into putting this on the negative side of my scale.

"I won't go into any great detail, but I think the tonal shifts throughout the story are jarring at best, and the film does nothing to make humans out of the grotesque monsters it calls characters. I don't buy the ending, nor do I think the film is beautiful (contrary to my friend, who enjoyed every minute of it) in any way, shape or form.

"On the good side, Amanda Peet and Claire Danes are spectacular as the two 'love(?) interests,' managing to steal the show from Mr. Kulkin. The real attractions of this film are Sarandon and Goldblum. Their grossly exaggerated characers are given life and vitality by these spectacular actors. Mr. Goldblum is the shining star of the cast (if you ask me), giving one of his best performances to date. I must say, phillipe impressed me, after GOSFORD PARK, he's proving to be okay. He's only got one schtick of course, but he does it well. On the final acting front point, Bill Pullman managed to get me to like him. I've never really liked him before (though I haven't seen much of his work, to be fair), but I loved him in IGBY."
Shannon says: "I rather liked this film, but the person I saw it with disliked it for many of the reasons that have been pointed out, so I guess I can see it both ways. (She wanted to walk out of the film about 30 minutes in.) Bill Pullman is slowly but surely redeeming himself in my eyes (I hated him in INDEPENDENCE DAY so much that I've carried a grudge and am only now warming up to him)- I thought his performance was great. Sarandon and Goldblum superb. I found Claire Danes to be a bit annoying and trite- doing her usual. I thought Culkin did a surprisingly good job.

"I liked the implicit bond b/w Pullman's and Culkin's characters- they both were ostracized and 'left out' of the family. Because of this, I found the plot twist where Goldblum is his father to be a rather interesting commentary. I also liked the (sometimes cliché) theme that 'money doesn't buy happiness.' This was my friends major bone about the film- she hates seeing rich people and all their woes ('ohhhh....pity them'). But I didn't take much offense to that. I think the major reason why I liked this film was that I could really relate to certain elements of their family, especially Igby's not-quite-fitting-in role." 2 1/2 cats