IGBY GOES DOWN trods the malaise minefield laid down by the likes of “The Catcher In The Rye”, looking at a malfunctioning world through the eyes of a malfunctioning teenager. ‘Trod’ doesn’t quite suffice; ‘tramples’ or ‘kicks the shit out of’ is more like it for this acid-burning 2002 comedy-drama, written & directed by Burr Steers.
Steers knows his swamp, counting relatives from both sides of the political chasm, including Gore Vidal (who has a bit part here), Jackie Kennedy, a founder of Standard Oil—even reaching back into the mists of WASPdom to that pistol-wielding grudge-bearer, Aaron Burr.
Igby’s parents are as hatefully screwed up as money can make you, his brother is a vicious young Republican (the word vicious optional), his selection of partners has little to do with sanity. Excellent acting all round, with enough razor-wire irony spouted by everyone to fuel a Modern Art Gallery in Hell.
Trouble is, the tone is so unrelentingly bleak, and everyone is so rotten that you need not wait until minute 98 fades out to arrive at “who gives a damn”? Igby & Co. are so caustic it’s toxic. Every comment is lacquered in disaffected sarcasm posing as insight, an egoistic Dien Bien Phu hurtfest of cigarette-wielding, novelist-quote-spewing, narcissistic toads. As such, the $9,000,000 bile-bath didn’t draw crowds, making back only $4,681,000.
Good soundtrack tune selection. Exemplary cast pitch-perfect slay every biting morsel: Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes, Ryan Philippe, Amanda Peet, Bill Pullman, Jered Harris, Rory Culkin, Cynthia Nixon, Eric Bogosian.