Igby Goes Down
UNITED ARTISTS 2002
Written and Directed by Burr Steels
STARING: Kieran Caulkin, Jeff Goldblum, Susan Serandon, and Ryan Philippe.
WATCHED: Rainy Sunday Morning in bed on VHS with the slight lines of some broadcast ghosting behind.
OVERALL: A good movie for a company who obviously could not get the rights to Catcher in the Rye or purchase one of David Mamet’s scripts. This movie was contrived to win awards on the artsy circuit.
The cast all did an excellent job, even Ryan Philippe, who was playing the only part that I have seen him play (rich, white, snob) was better than his tolerable self. Serandon was good as well (but plays this part too often) and Goldblum was (as usually) amazing. The two incredibly hot babes (played by incredibly hot babes Amanda Peet and Claire Danes) were excellent despite their characters basically having parts that sexy cardboard cut outs could have played … and that was the problem with this movie, you constantly felt as if you were being tricked into believing that it was an intellectual masterpiece. Or, rather, you constantly felt that the fellow who made it (Burr Steers) was trying to convince you it was great when he didn’t really believe it himself.
There were some great scenes where you were able to witness that form lost to the cinema called “acting”. There was great dialogue between the characters on occasion that was VERY funny sometimes and even made it to being deep (but in a very shallow way). In the end, however, the movie wasn’t about anything. Sure, it was angst ridden (what movie about a teenager isn’t) but there was no growth. The official web-site states that: In his quest to free himself from the oppressive dysfunction of his family, Igby's struggles veer from the comic to the tragic in an ultimately noble attempt to keep himself from "going down." But there is nothing truly oppressive about the dysfunction of Igby’s family. His father, suffering from Schizophrenia, is in a mental hospital and his self-medicating mother merely wants her son to get through high school. The oppression, like the oppression of most teens, is only to be found in their own revolution. More to the point, Igby does nothing that one might call “noble” to keep from “going down” (which I must assume means going down the road of high school, university and ultimately, that shallow wealth and happiness that the rich enjoy). Unless nobility is selling drugs, sleeping with messed up women and begging for money, Igby does not present a very noble figure.
But then again, where would one gain nobility when one is merely fighting against going to school.
I know, I know, I hear you telling me the movie is deeper than that. That Igby’s struggle is inside himself and that it I within this universal search that we truly see his nobility. BULLSHIT. This movie was about NOTHING. Or, if it was about anything, it was about showing off the talents of some fine actors. Igby didn’t develop. While his world may have changed in cosmically small ways, he didn’t. At least not as far as I could tell.
Truly what saved this movie (if it was saved at all) was the (trying-to-be) Becket-like dialogue that the actors got to spew forth life soft stool. I can see the appeal for those people who don’t read much and, therefore, do not get to experience truly good stories about inner change but, in the end, this movie failed for me like a REALLY thick slice of nothing at all is bound to.