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Igby Goes Down (2002)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 128
Fresh: 97 | Rotten: 31

In the vein of The Catcher in the Rye, Igby Goes Down is scathingly witty and sharply observant.


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 9

In the vein of The Catcher in the Rye, Igby Goes Down is scathingly witty and sharply observant.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 44,024

My Rating

Movie Info

The cynical son of an upper-class New York family bedeviled by booze, pills and mental illness strikes out on his own in this caustic, darkly comic drama. Igby Slocomb (Kieran Culkin) and his older brother, Oliver (Ryan Phillippe), are are in the process of killing their mother, Mimi (Susan Sarandon). Flashbacks delineate Igby's troubled childhood: Speed-freak Mimi and her depressed husband, Jason (Bill Pullman), snipe at each other endlessly until Jason attempts suicide before Igby's very eyes


Drama, Comedy

Burr Steers

Feb 4, 2003


MGM - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (144) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (97) | Rotten (31) | DVD (26)

In its own floundering way, it gets to you. Just like Igby.

November 4, 2002
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The film makes a fatal mistake: It asks us to care about a young man whose only apparent virtue is that he is not quite as unpleasant as some of the people in his life.

October 10, 2002
Orlando Sentinel
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In all, Steers has insured that this teenage film will be recognizable to teenagers but not limited to them.

October 8, 2002
The New Republic
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Holden Caulfield did it better.

September 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Comment (1)
Toronto Star
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Good actors have a radar for juicy roles -- there's a plethora of characters in this picture, and not one of them is flat.

September 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Wickedly funny, jarringly transgressive, obdurately unpigeonholeable and startlingly moving.

September 20, 2002
Washington Post
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so many of the characters are so soulless, making it difficult to see past their sarcastic, brash exteriors... So when all the iciness melts away, the sentimentality which replaces it seems unconvincingly pat.

June 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Info
Daily Info

Dark, depressing story that's for adults only.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Consistently unusual, unpredictable and uproarious viewing.

December 28, 2008 Full Review Source:

Deep, dark and hopelessly cynical - the kind of film that kids are too young for and won't understand and parents are too old for and won't understand either.

June 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

While teens are at the age of self discovery, Igby is doing his best work at self-destruction.

June 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Hollywood Report Card | Comment (1)
Hollywood Report Card

While J.D. Salinger and his Holden Caulfield positively own the territory of runaway upper class malcontents in New York, this funny and touching film does justice to the genre.

October 24, 2003 Full Review Source:

The nearest thing we've got to a big-screen Catcher in the Rye...with Kieran Culkin giving a very Holden Caufield-esque performance.

June 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

An uninspiring, would-be Catcher in the Rye story.

January 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

It's second-class Salinger, but even at that it's thoughtfully entertaining.

January 19, 2003
Movie Metropolis

There are some movies that hit you from the first scene and you know it's going to be a trip. Igby Goes Down is one of those movies.

December 27, 2002
Matt's Movie Reviews

A highly personal look at the effects of living a dysfunctionally privileged lifestyle, and by the end, we only wish we could have spent more time in its world.

December 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

The script is witty and touching, and the performances of the leads (and most of the supporting players) carry it off perfectly.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

The handiest thing about casting a Culkin in your movie is that if he doesn't exactly fit, you can just exchange him for another, like a rented tuxedo or Baldwin.

December 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Snobs
Film Snobs

Writer/director Burr Steers displays a pitch-perfect sense of the way Igby is at once repelled by his family and his upbringing and yet an unmistakable product of it.

November 29, 2002
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

"The Royal Tenenbaums" without the quirks.

November 11, 2002 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

is an experience far more tame and mainstream than it pretends to be. We start the movie amused by Igby's rough edges and quirks but are then asked to sympathize with his softer side. Its surprises, its honesty, and its shrewd humor get lost somewhere alo

November 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

J.D. Salinger would've loved Igby.

November 3, 2002 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

I was just not moved by this satire/drama.

November 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Nearly overflowing with boldly eccentric people and lacerating dialogue, 'Igby' throws 'Catcher in the Rye,' 'The Royal Tenenbaums' and 'Less Than Zero' into the Cuisinart and blends them into a cocktail that packs a real kick.

November 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Audience Reviews for Igby Goes Down

An indie film from writer and director Burr Steers, this film follows the disenchanted life of a teenager in the world of the socially elite in his quest to remain untouched by his beginnings and venture into the underbelly of New York City. Steers has said that he originally wanted to write this as a novel instead of a movie, and the prose-like quality of the story comes through very well. This film is most reminiscent in tone to the writings of Augusten Burroughs, thanks to the lead character's rebellion from his family, being young and yet casual about sex, and living in different places but not having a clear home. His story starts with his father being diagnosed as schizophrenic, and his mother committing him to a home. Igby flunks out of prep schools, eventually landing himself in military school. He runs away to New York to meet up with an artist that his godfather is seeing behind his wife's back. The artist in question (Peet) has many issues connected to her lover's animosity towards her, and this leads to her own breakdown, witnessed by Igby at several intervals. She also has a friend who is a cross-dressing performance artist, and Igby takes up with a former Columbia student turned waitress, forming a kind of oddly arranged family in the city. His brother ultimately intervenes, and his mother, but Igby only flees them time and again, trying to run from his mother's bitter tirades, his brother's conservative and mature musings on his state, and his informal family crumbling before his eyes. This hits particularly strongly when it comes to Igby shifting between places to sleep as everyone unwinds around him, making his life unstable and yet tentatively epic. This dysfunction is well captured in a very composed performance from Kieran Culkin, another indie rave performance from Amanda Peet, a very low key and yet memorable one from Ryan Philippe, and Claire Danes in yet another role as a disenchanted young woman with her own severe problems. I guarantee that this film will make you swoon for the literary works of Kerouac, Burroughs, and Salinger.
May 14, 2013

Super Reviewer

Cast: Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman, Amanda Peet, Jared Harris, Rory Culkin

Director: Burr Steers

Summary: A teenager tired of being ignored in deference to his older brother (Ryan Phillippe), Igby (Kieran Culkin) escapes to New York City without his family's knowledge, where he meets and falls in love with another outsider (Claire Danes) who makes him realize he's not so alone in the world. But Igby also soon realizes he can never completely bury his past.

My Thoughts: "Kieran Culkin portrayed all the angst and bitterness his character was feeling quite well. Igby's life is rough. His mother, played by Susan Sarandon, is very manipulative and condescending. Sarandon is pure genius as the mother in this film. You can feel all the frustration, anger, and yet sadness Igby feels towards his mother in the end. It's quite intense and emotional. There are plenty of complicated character's to keep your interest and keep you caught up in the story. Of course Rory Culkin was the best pick to play the young Igby considering they are brother's and look a lot alike. Every one of the actor's put in great performances. A film to see if you haven't."
February 24, 2012

Super Reviewer

This represents something of a dry run for an updated Catcher in the Rye. It's a biting and caustic dark dramedy about Igby Slocumb- a rich and sardonic rich kid who hates his family and rebels at every chance he gets, trying to find an existence he can be happy with. His mother is a pill popper who comes from old money and is very overbearing. His father is schizophrenic and currently resides in an institution. His older brother Ollie is the type of well to do college guy with nothign but success in his future. And then there's Igby's godfather D.H., a wealthy and powerful guy whose status as Ollie's benefactor sees him play a rather questionably larger than normal role in his life for a non-mafia godfather.

On his road to rebellion, Igby goes from school to school, then military school before ending up crashing in on New York's bohemian scene where he gets invovled with D.H.'s trophy mistress Rachel, her artist friend Russell, and a nice older, bored Jewish girl named Sookie.

This is a big mix of satire, colorful characters, wittiness, humor, and pathos. It's also rather twisted and pretty weird at times. It's a well done nad entertainign film, though I did make the mistake of watching it in a double feature with The Squid and the Whale. Now my chances of having a happy rest of the day are pretty well non-existant. Oh well. At least the movies were good.

Keiran Culkin is great as Igby, and, even though he's not yet achieved the household name recognition of Macaulay, he's definitely the more accomplished and better actor. Susan Sarandon seems to be having fun as Igby's mother Igby, and Ryan Phillippe excels as doing characters such as Ollie. Even if it is typecasting, he's still solid. Jeff Goldblum just radiates awesome smarminess as D.H. and I enjoyed (just about) every moment he was on screen. Claire Danes is terrific as Sookie, and Amanda Peet is really good as Rachel, and I'm jealous that Culkin (his character, rather) got to hook up with both of them. Bill Pullman's role is limited, but important, and he does a nice job. Harris is just batty, but fun.

As a big fan of Catcher in the Rye, I dug this, even though it didn't grab me as mucch as that one did (or at least used to). In many ways I'm still very much like the leads from both wroks and can relate to them, despite being a bit older and having a more mature take on the world than I used to. All in all, this is good stuff, though it's not gonan be for everyone. If you like snotty rebellious bohemians and don't always see the glass as half full, I think you'll find something to enjoy here.
January 8, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

This is almost too perfect of an origin story for Sean and Patrick Bateman. Kieran Culkin and Ryan Phillippe were both ruthless in their own way. I think it's great that they just basically make fun of rich, sophisticated people to no end. It's also a really great coming of age story that doesn't make the protagonist a complete whiny prick. Igby was actually pretty confident person and wasn't the typical clueless teen.
November 18, 2009

Super Reviewer

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