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Movie Review: Igby Goes Down

Story: I was hooked from the opening dark scenes (longtime LOBO readers know how much I like dark films). However, I won't keep YOU in the dark - I loved this film! I knew I would be giving it a high LOBO Howl when I just sat back and let it take me for the complete ride. It is such a well written film that all of the savvy filmgoers out there will not have time to create your own script. It is always one step ahead of you. Kudos to young writer-director Burr Steers for his brilliant first effort at film making. (Perhaps he might think about a really early retirement at this point.) The story of Steers' pedigree is very interesting but I won't go into it - just keep in mind that his uncle, Gore Vidal, appears in the opening scenes.

Anyhow - this story is a dark, horrifying, yet hilarious (at times) picture of the upper crusts' family dysfunction at its finest (or its worst). Young Igby Slocumb, has managed to flunk out of every Protestant private high school on the East Coast and his drug laden-pill popping mother is now trying to get into some of the private Catholic Schools. Think Holden Caulfield living in the year 2000 - yes, the addition of drugs is an important component in this story. (Just say no! - would have been a good underscored message for this film).

Young Igby has many episodic scenes that make you want to belly laugh and then scream in horror. The most important thing for me was that I cared about the characters - all of them. The characters grow up and blow up before your eyes. If you like dark, quirky tales, this film is for you.

Acting: The entire cast was fabulous. The casting director should get an Oscar for his/her efforts. Kieran Culkin is just brilliant as young Igby. He should be crowned King Culkin for this role. Jeff Goldblum, as his godfather, is better than he has ever been. I wish there were more roles for him. Amanda Peet, who is usually rather skinky, was perfect. Claire Danes, who I have always liked, has grown up and was wonderful. Ryan Phillippe is going to have quite a career ahead of him. Rory Culkin (You Can Count on Me, Signs) plays Igby as a 10 year old and is also very good. And then there is Susan Sarandon, as the pill popping Mom - she can be a very powerful presence on-screen, and yet, she stayed in character, and did not blow everyone else off of the screen.

Critters: Thankfully there are no critters in this film. The humans can barely take care of themselves. I can't imagine the squirm factor if there were any animals around.

Food: Several delicious looking ice cream sundaes and lots and lots of booze.

Visual Art: Art all over the scale - from interesting landscapes to some really bad abstract art.

Blatant Product Placement: If there were any - it was not blatant. All I can remember was someone ordering a J andB drink.

Soundtrack: Terrific.

Opening Titles: The background information was placed before you in-between the stark titles. Very effective.

Theater Audience: Fairly booked for an afternoon film. No real wackos that I could see or hear. Oh yes...there was one HUGE man in the first row eating a JUMBO- JUMBO bucket of popcorn. He scared me.

Quirky Meter: 5

Squirm Scale: 3 (Some bad things happen to Ibgy and there are also some druggy needles...Ugh!)

Predictability Level: Low

Tissue Usage: I had a few welling tears - but did not need a tissue.

Oscar Worthy: Yes. I think Jeff Goldblum should get a Best Supporting nod and Kieran Culkin should get a Best Actor nod.

Nit Picking: This had nothing to do with the film...but I squirm whenever I see the World Trade Center Towers in the background. It diverts my attention from the film. I noticed the towers three times - it's probably just me.

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen, for sure. And if you still can, see The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys, staring Kiernan Culkin...please do. Other K. Culkin films to rent: The Cider House Rules and the original Home Alone with older brother, the original Culkin.

Length: Under the 2 hour LOBO rule. However, the oh so many advertisements and previews made the movie almost two and a half hours long. Grr!

LOBO HOWLS: 9