Preview by: Jack Foley
QUIRKY comedies seem to be all the rage at the moment in America,
what with Punch-Drunk Love
helping to win Adam Sandler newfound acclaim, and the Tadpole
knocking critics for six with its smart wit and wry observations.
Step forward, therefore, Igby Slocumb (played by a certain Kieran
Culkin), a rebellious, sarcastic 17-year-old, desperate to break
free from the world of 'old money' privilege he was born into,
and make a name for himself.
The film in question is Igby Goes Down and it is yet another offbeat
comedy, independent-style, that has got critics raving. Written
and directed by first-timer, Burr Steers, and based largely on
self-experience, the movie is said to be a well-acted, well-judged
gem, featuring a brilliant ensemble cast, all of whom are on top
Aside from wrestling his own, inner demons, Igby must contend
with a schizophrenic father (played by Bill Pullman), a self-absorbed
mother (Susan Sarandon) and a driven big brother (Ryan Phillippe),
so, after deliberately flunking out of yet another prep school
and avoiding military academy, he sets off to the Big Apple to
hide out with his godfather (Jeff Goldblum) and his drug-addicted
girlfriend (Amanda Peet).
During the course of his efforts to prevent himself from 'going
down', he encounters Claire Danes' terminally bored Sookie Sapperstein
and embarks on an affair, all the while aware that his family
is searching for him.
Steers, the nephew of author Gore Vidal (who makes an uncredited
cameo in the film), was delighted when his film was chosen to
open the recent Seattle International Film Festival and, upon
introducing the film to an appreciative audience, spoke of the
struggle to get it made.
That struggle looks to have paid off, however, with several critics
in America referring to it as a darker cousin to the equally superb
Royal Tenenbaums. There is
said to be a mean streak running through it, despite the biting
As yet, there is no firm release date for the film in the UK,
although for a flavour of what to expect, scroll down to find
out what the US critics had to say.
US critical reaction
Entertainment Weekly led the way, awarding it an A grade,
and describing it as 'poisonously funny and unstintingly furious',
while Hollywood Reporter said that it is 'an original work
filled with bracing wit and sharp observations about character,
class and social milieu'.
The LA Weekly said it is 'bursting with grenadelike one-liners
and full-bodied performances', while the New York Times felt it
is 'corrosively sarcastic'. The Onion's A.V Club said that
it 'gives the impression of spontaneity while being meticulously
Rolling Stone felt it was 'darkly hilarious' and 'unexpectedly
heartbreaking', while TV Guide opined that 'Culkin has
a way with quip-heavy dialogue that transforms what might otherwise
been irritatingly, solipsistic posing into a great performance'.
Slant Magazine was a little less impressed, describing
it as a film which is as 'disconcerting as LaBute's equally nasty,
though less charming, dramedy Your Friends & Neighbors'.
The Boston Globe, meanwhile, referred to it as 'blisteringly
rude, scarily funny, sorrowfully sympathetic to the damage it
surveys' and adds that 'the film has in Kieran Culkin a pitch-perfect
Paul Clinton, of CNN, meanwhile, states that 'Steers,
in his feature film debut, has created a brilliant motion picture'.
The final word, however, goes to the Houston Chronicle,
which described it as 'a deliciously cold, brutal and unsentimental
gem about growing up in an environment that knows no mercy'.
We can only wait to find out whether Igby lives up to his growing