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Igby Goes Down

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Igby Goes Down
from Film Forum, 10/03/02

Igby Goes Down is the Dysfunctional Family Movie of the Week, starring Kieran Culkin as a kid who is hardly "home alone." As he tries to cope with his maddening, wealthy, drug-warped family dynamics, he seeks solace in sexual meddling with two different women and plunges headlong into angst, despair, and rebellion.

Christian media critics are not convinced that bad family dynamics should make audiences sympathetic to reckless, sarcastic, destructive heroes. Preview's critic reports, "No redeeming elements were found in any scrap of this film."

Ted Baehr (Movieguide) finds that the film is true to the '60s, but too mean-spirited to do any good. He calls it "vicious, sarcastic and depressing. This is the poison pen of the politics of envy, which refuses to see the good that lives alongside the bad in our society. The writing is poignant and even compelling, though the Freudian message that every child's problems can be laid at the feet of their mother is insufferable."

In the mainstream press, critics generally approved of the picture. Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) calls it "poisonously funny and unstintingly furious … a little indie-style production that succeeds not because it breaks new ground but because it displays such nimble footing around a familiarly rocky coming-of-age landscape."

But Mary Ann Johanson (Flick Filosopher) disagrees: "Even Culkin's intensely mordant performance here can't make this pointless and brutal film watchable. Culkin is extraordinary in Igby's adolescent anguish, but it couldn't have been hard to pretend you want out of this world."