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Igby Goes Down (Widescreen)

Kieran Culkin , Susan Sarandon , Burr Steers    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Dark Comedy June 2 2003
By C. Colt
"Igby Goes Down" is one of the most intelligent and inventive films in recent years and certainly a surprising accomplishment for the typically formulaic American movie industry. As a dark comedy and a social commentary, the genius behind this film ranks it with other notables such as "Magnolia", "Rushmore", "American Beauty", and "Y Tu Mama Tambien". While Igby features an all-star cast including Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillipe, Bill Pullman, and Susan Sarandon, their celebrity personae are thankfully overshadowed by the quality of the story and its characters. In subsequent interviews that are available on the DVD, many of the actors stated that they were so impressed with the screenplay (written by director Burr Steers) that they were willing to work in a low budget film for a fraction of their normally astronomical wages. As a result, the viewer is rewarded with a kind of performance integrity that is hard to find in normal Hollywood films. The actors really want to act, not simply to be their public selves on screen.
The story begins with two brothers, Oliver (Phillippe), and Igby (Culkin) Slocum suffocating their mother, Mimi (Sarandon) to death. It then backtracks to show us the tortured world of the Slocum family and the strange but radically different paths with which the brothers respond to it. Mimi Slocum is a despotic and dysfunctional mother who is prone to violent fits while her husband Jason (Pullman) is a schizophrenic. From an early age, Oliver internalizes whatever pain and anger he feels toward his family situation and becomes a highly accomplished student, dutiful family member, and a faithful employee.
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This unconventional film about a teenage boy struggling to escape the crushing pressures in his life defies categorization. While one could describe it as a dark comedy, it is funny only in places, and then in a desperate, cynical way. But it doesn't take itself as seriously as a true drama. "Igby Goes Down" works best as a film that is what it is: the story of Igby (Kieran Culkin), who has been kicked out of every private school his mother Mimi (Susan Sarandon) has enrolled him in and who goes on the lam to avoid the next one. Igby's father (Bill Pullman) has been in a mental hospital for the past six years, and his mother is a snooty matron dying of breast cancer who spends her time fiercely trying to get Igby into yet another school. His brother Oliver (Ryan Phillippe) is a snobbish self-important Columbia undergrad. Igby's life is truly messed up, and no one can stand to be in his company for long before they feel like hitting him. The one thing Igby has going for him is an often charming wit, and that, combined with so many things beyond his control, endears him to the viewer.
Culkin shows surprising range as Igby, moving convincingly from sarcastic to resourceful to desperate - and back again to sarcastic. Claires Danes is spunky and perfectly edgy as the Bennington drop-out Sookie, and Amanda Peet is even better as the sensual non-dancer dancer and junkie Rachel. Jeff Goldblum turns in a fine performance as DH, Igby's godfather, who, as Oliver says, is finely-tuned for only one thing: making money. Susan Sarandon seems to float through this movie until the end, when she, too, reveals astonishing aspects of her character. Every last character is this film is quirky.
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If you enjoy narratives like American Beauty or Catcher in the Rye, you must watch this under-rated dramedy. Sufficiently quaint characters, a murky and disturbing story that manages to hold up because of its laconic wit, and a brilliant cast all round.
Culkin does fairly well in his role as a precocious kid who school-hops more often than he change his clothes, hates his quirky family (mother, father, brother all roles played by A-list stars), and eventually goes on the lam.
On the run in the big city, he meets up with various eccentrics: he finds refuge with his godfather's trophy girlfriend, a heroin addict played by Amanda Peet and her arty, bizarre friends. When this relationship sours he finds better solace with Sookie Saperstein (Claire Danes), a bored, ironic college student temporarily on the run from college.
It may be flawed and occasionally embittering. It may be (intentionally) artsy and ultimately obscure. But this stunning debut is an absolutely watchable treat that I'd recommend in a blink if you care about cinema that evokes thought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A poetic movie March 22 2004
I cant believe how closely this resembled my high school life going to a new england prep school-the same angst..the weight that Igby talks about...the end of innocence. I thought that the main actor was incredible in this part. Beautiful and gawky with the right amount of smart ass and broken little boy. This movie combines this sad wistful spirit with an amazing sarcastic humor. The Characters are wonderful, the story is amazing, the setting (NYC) is perfect and the soundtrack is perfect. This movie reminds me of a beautiful Japanese poem; wistful, deep, entertaining and an experience to dwell on and repeat.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Much!
There could have been a great movie here, maybe even two great movies, but there's too much on the plate. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2004 by JAMES AGNEW
5.0 out of 5 stars What Kind of Name is Igby?
The kind of name a person named Sookie should not be asking about. In high school we have all read The Catcher in the Rye and we all for some odd reason really liked it well Igby... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by Rachel
1.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, but what's up this video?!
Did I get the wrong video somehow? One of the best things about this movie (in the theatre) was the haunting refrain that you could also hear on the Igby Goes Down website. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bother...
The sometimes stellar acting cannot save this film from itself. I went in expecting something great, especially from all the hype that enveloped this movie during it's theatrical... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by M. Neal
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling coming-of-age tale
When Igby Goes Down hit theatres last year it disappeared despite its stellar cast and positive reviews. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by Mr. B. G. Fowler
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age with emotional neglect...
Jason "Igby" Slocumb, jr., a 17-year old misfit with a sense of irony, is struggling with his emotionally aloof family where his father has been institutionalized, his mother is a... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2004 by Kim Anehall
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent "Catcher"
"Igby" has a quick wit and darkly comic mentality that set it apart from just about everything I've seen lately. Read more
Published on Dec 3 2003 by Anonymous
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreck
I had to post a review after seeing that the Amazon editors chose this empty, unwatchable movie as one of the best DVDs of 2003. Who are these editors? Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003 by Alex Lubertozzi
5.0 out of 5 stars Kieran grows up
Most people remember Kieran Culkin as Fuller from the Home Alone movies or the little brother in the Father of the Bride flicks or simply as playing young Mac in several movies. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2003 by K. Hardaway
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Igby Goes Down is a terrific dark dramedy, due mostly to Kieran Culkin's ridiculously sincere performance. Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2003 by UniqueChicFreak
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