Igby Goes Down (2002)

igby goes down poster 2002 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice different

Take on Salinger borders copying instead of being an homage

Movie Info

Movie Name: Igby Goes Down

Studio: United Artists

Genre(s): Drama/Comedy

Release Date(s):  May 23, 2002 (Seattle International Film Festival)/September 13, 2002 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

igby goes down jim gaffigan kieran culkin

I want to check in with this credit card…it totally worked for my brother…maybe if I use one of those Talk-Back things…

Jason “Igby” Slocumb, Jr. (Kieran Culkin) does like being put in the cookie cutter world his mother Mimi (Susan Sarandon) and his brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe) love inhabiting.  Igby feels more like his institutionalized father (Bill Pullman) who battled depression and mental issues Igby’s entire life.  When Igby gets kicked out of another school, he finds himself hiding out in New York at the flat owned by his godfather D.H. (Jeff Goldblum) and inhabited by D.H.’s mistress Rachel (Amanda Peet).  Igby is coasting and when he meets Sookie (Claire Danes), he might have found someone to coast with him…but Igby’s days of running could be coming to an end.

Written and directed by Burr Steers, Igby Goes Down is a comedy drama.  The film premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival and was released to positive reviews.

I am a big fan of J.D. Salinger’s work.  He had a unique voice and a way of telling stories with weight and class while somehow managing to keep them almost light and comical.  They are stories of spoiled rich, but for some reason you can still pity them…Igby Goes Down takes the similar style, but almost becomes a copycat of the Glass family rather than an homage to Salinger.

igby goes down susan sarandon assisted suicide

I hate it when family gatherings end up with killing mom

The story is a story of affluence, and it is evidence how affluence not only doesn’t mean class but also brings remorse.  The characters are all hollow and superficial.  While Igby tries to break himself from this by realizing he has a deep darkness within him, the darkness he believed in actually isn’t even part of him…he is not his father’s son.  This provides a liberation, but also shows how he has wasted his life fighting back with the “out” that he believed he would go insane at some point.

The parallels are of course drawn between Culkin’s Igby and Salinger’s classic Holden Caulfield from 1951’s A Catcher in the Rye.  Like Holden, he seems to fight “the phonies”, but he’s still really part of them like it or not.  Culkin does a good job getting into the role which isn’t easy (his younger brother Rory plays the younger version of him), and he has a lot of similarities to his older brother Macaulay in delivery and performance.  The overly quirky cast is good with Claire Danes, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Harris, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Jim Gaffigan, Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Peet, and a cameo by Gore Vidal, but it is almost over the top.

igby goes down claire danes kieran culkin

I just feel that this…is my so-called life

While the movie also has a lot of similarities to Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums from 2001, it is very stylistically different.  It inhabits a very real world (though upper class) New York City.  The city is an escape for Igby, but it isn’t as romanticized as Barr could have made it…which I actually prefer.

Igby Goes Down is a different and fun movie.  It is quirky (maybe too quirky for some).  It feels like it spins out of a lot of independent films that were coming out at the time rich with dialogue and interesting characters, but it does manages to distinguish itself.  If you’ve never seen the movie, it is a good ride for angst-y teens that feel like they are original in their angst.  Almost everyone goes through a challenging point in life, but Igby does what many wish they could or wish they could afford to do…he breaks free.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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