“Backtracking down the movie shelf. This past weekend, I saw Kieran Culkin in This Is Our Youth on Broadway, and I got nostalgic for Igby. Youth, btw, was amazing. Kieran was incredible, as was Michael Cera. The play had this really darkly humorous undertone that I totally vibed with. Waiting at the stage door after the show, I was thinking about how many countless times I must have seen Igby Goes Down in college. It was one of the first maybe dozen DVDs I owned, which limited the options I had for watching something on my laptop in my first dorm room. My crush on Culkin meant Igby got a lot of play. But it’d been so long, I couldn’t think of too many memorable scenes. All that kept coming to me was “”It’s the kind of name somebody named ‘Sookie’ is in no position to question””
Igby (Kieran Culkin) has always been somewhat of a troublemaker. He’s kicked out of one school after another, being a constant headache for his mother (Susan Sarrandon) and his brother (Ryan Phillippe). After being kicked out of yet another school, Igby runs off to hide at a loft owned by his uncle DH (Jeff Goldblum) that’s currently occupied by DH’s artsy mistress Rachel (Amanda Peet), and spends his time cavorting with Sookie (Claire Danes).
Igby Goes Down is ultimately about a boy who is scared to grow up. He’s afraid of what will happen to him when he’s on his own in the world. He’s scared of becoming his father (Bill Pullman) who is currently institutionalized. He doesn’t know what he wants, he just knows he doesn’t want to be told what to do.
Culkin is brilliantly charismatic as Igby, giving you a sympathetic and interesting character. You’re excited with him. You cry with him. You worry about him. The rest of the cast is equally fantastic. You read all those names I listed. You don’t need further convincing.
Something I love about revisiting older movies is seeing actors I now know before I knew them. Before, Rachel’s even artsier friend Russel was just annoying. Now that I know Jared Harris from Mad Men, I find Russel hilarious. Whole new level to that character just from having a familiarity with him.
The film has a weird pretentious indie tone, but it works, kind of setting the confusion Igby has. Kind of a modern day Catcher in the Rye only with quirkier characters and bigger stars”