Igby Goes Down
Ahh, fresh Culkins! With Macaulay Culkin now thoroughly chewed up and spat out by the Hollywood machine, destined to spend the rest of his life jumping at the sight of a movie camera, a flashbulb, or another human being, here come younger siblings Kieran and Rory to provide fresh fodder for the cinematic rendering plant. The two Culkins play title character Igby at different ages, and already carry an air of disaffection suggesting it's only a matter of time before one or both of them become entangled in a drug problem, a paparazzi slapfight, or a marriage to Drew Barrymore. But not to worry, father Kit and mother Patricia had the foresight to breed up a whole mess of Culkins (though in the divorce, some of them did reportedly manage to escape).
If only Kieran and Rory had been so lucky. "Igby Goes Down" is billed as a dark comedy, but first-time writer/director Burr Seers forgot to add much in the way of comedy. Igby (Kieran Culkin/Rory Culkin) is the disaffected son of a disaffected mother (Susan Sarandon) and disassociated father (Bill Pullman), whose problems stem from the fact that they're just too rich. Unhappy and bored with his life of wealth and privilege, Igby gets kicked out of one fine School of Future Leaders after another, and eventually escapes to roam New York City with a cast of companions that includes his guileless godfather, D.H. (Jeff Goldblum), a beady-eyed heroin addict (Amanda Peet) and an unconvincing love interest, Sookie (Claire Danes). The only funny part of the movie happens when Ryan Phillippe, in the role of Igby's older brother Oliver, delivers his lines like Thurston Howell the Third on Prozac. Sadly, however, the humor is not intentional.
In what seems to be a growing trend in movies, none of the characters can claim a single redeeming quality. They're mental cases because they're rich and can afford to be. Seers tries hard to get us to at least pity Igby, but when he's threatened with physical harm, you actually root for his attacker. Spending two hours locked in a dark room with these characters is like being forced to endure your own free sample of hell.
The end effect is a film that reads like a failed novel. Once we've had our initial helping of quirky character sketches, things cease to progress and the movie begins to go around in circles like a Monte Carlo driven by a dead guy in a K-mart parking lot. At that point, it's just a matter of waiting for the thing to run out of gas.
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