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IN SHORT: Yet another angry teen movie, utterly without any redeeming value whatsoever. [Rated R for language, sexuality and drug content. ]
Some time in the near future, an arch-Conservative rabble rouser will wheel out Igby Goes Down as the Anti-Christ of Hollywood movies. Anti-Family. Anti-American Way of Life. The usual self-Hatred spewed by ultra-Liberal types who despise the comforts that a capitalistic economic system afford them. If you've walked the planet for more than a couple of decades, you probably know the routine. In this case, though, the example is hand delivered and fits almost to a tee everything the rabble rousers scream about. Rarely have we seen an even dozen A-list print and television critics lined up like Olympic runners at a 30 yard dash, desperately waiting for the first sign that this monstrosity of a movie called Igby Goes Down was over, so that they could get the hell out of the screening room. But they did and we saw it with all four eyes.
Igby Goes Down, and we're reverting to the filmstudentmindthink that we revile to do this analysis, is about rebelling against the need to present the comfortable facade of success that the higher economic classes must do. Beneath that facade, of course, is a teeming sewage pit of really ugly stuff. Only a youthful observer, pristine and not yet totally corrupted by the wealth that will eventually be his, can rightfully guide us through the drek and dredge and disgusting hypocrisy of his class.
In language the common man or woman can understand: the story of Igby Goes Down is about the kid hasn't got access to his trust fund. He wants the money and he wants out.
We were taught one important thing way back in our disavowed film school days and that was the important point that all stories must have at least one element that will make an emotional connection with an audience. It could be a character or a story and it doesn't necessarily have to be a positive, life-affirming ideal, either. You may be repulsed by a character's actions but, if you understand the underlying reasons, you may at least appreciate the performance in the overall story. That being said, let's take a look at the characters in Igby Goes Down. Follow our main character as he bounces among his social group and see if you can figure out the empathetic elements.
Jason Slocum, Jr (Kieran Culkin)
aka "Igby" is a perennial failure at all the high priced private
schools he is shunted among year after year. His visage is that sort of
whiny looking blank mask that makes all his fellow students want to beat
the crap out of him, which they do with regularity. Igby "goes down"
but not yet for the count. His summers are spent at places like the "Clipped
Wings Teenage Wellness and Rehabilitation Recovery Center," for the
boy takes after his parents . . .
The moral of his story is: "Don't kill your mom until she places the signed check for your trust funds in your hand (unsaid is the legal necessity that the check must clear the bank. Then you can throw mama from the train, whatever.) More to the point, Igby carries such a load of rage that his reaction at the end of the Third Act is entirely understandable (which fulfills the dictate of sympathy for an unsympathetic act) but the construction of the film is such that the point is lost to all but those who sit and analyze the frame by frame content.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Igby Goes Down, he would have paid . . .
and worth every penny
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