J. D. Salinger
must be one really fat fucker because there seems to be plenty of
him for young writers to feast on. It's a certain type of writer,
the kind who fancies himself some sort of artistic hot shit with
big things to say, but who can't come up with his own masterpiece
when he's got paper in front of himself. Igby Goes Down is
a blatant ripoff of not only "Catcher in the Rye," but
also any of the Glass Family stories that Salinger wrote before
he holed himself up in Connecticut with enough royalties for all
the pay-per-view porn an old man could ever want. Kieran Culkin's
Igby is supposed to Holden Caulfield, kicked out of school, on the
lam in New York City and bitching about hypocrisy. And while he
has a few good lines, and there are some good scenes, it's still
an imitation without any sincere emotions.
Burr Steers has a really fucking cool name. I don't know if it's
his real name, if his parents were some sort of cattle-raising hippies
or if he concatenated it himself Midwestern billboards. If it's
real, I wish I was born into his family. If it's fake, well, then
what a cheater. A name isn't cool if you give it to yourself. Except
maybe, like Candy Bottoms or Wally Bigpenis. Anyway, Steers has
a cool name but he doesn't have a lot of self-restraint. Igby
Goes Down rambles and meanders around so many characters and
subplots that it ruins what could have been an effective and touching
Culkin is Igby
(not his real name), the seriously pissed off and "brilliant"
youngest son of a wealthy drunkard mother and an institutionalized
father. He's been kicked out of every protestant school on the East
Coast, and rather than head to military school, he runs away and
hides out in New York with "colorful" downbeat characters.
He shacks up at his godfather's mistress's apartment. She is played
by the increasingly unappealing Amanda Peet, an actress who is more
than happy to flash her tits, but also wants to be Meryl Streep.
See, she's a heroin addict here, and tries real hard to look all
doped up and dramatic.
is dying of breast cancer, and rather than confront his estrangement
from her he stays on the lam. He has sex and falls in love with
Claire Danes, bones Peet, becomes a drug-runner, gets mixed up in
his godfather's personal life and ultimately helps his brother kill
their mother, per her request. It should build to this mercy killing
as an act of love with Culkin slowly coming to terms with his fucked
up parents, and realizing that his mother is a mess but she did
what she could for him. Instead, it's just the conclusion of a series
of scenes that don't add up to much other than a series of events
that Steers thought up.
is supposed to be smart, too smart for his own good. We're supposed
to feel sorry for him because of the weight on his shoulders, and
see the parallel between him and his loony father. We're supposed
to see that he is afraid to acknowledge that he is genetically tied
to his family and can never escape them. But, every other scene
undermines this premise. There is just too much extraneous crap
slopped into the movie because Steers can't control himself. There
are too many characters that he tries to make "characters"
for the basic story to have the impact intended. Rather than build
to a deep understanding of this kid and feel sorry for him, the
movie just wanders all over New York looking like a drunk whose
about to wet his pants because there are no public toilets.
final scenes of Culkin finally facinghis mother could be plenty
powerful, and should be. But Steers is too busy throughout the story
trying to be really dark. He undermines any impact with irrelevant
scenes that are bitter for the sake of being bitter. Oh, they're
nice scenes, but they don't add to the total. And it's not like
I have any place to complain. I know all about bitter for the sake
of bitter. It's a great way to be left alone in bars. But for fuck's
sake, I give it away for free. For eight bucks, it'd be nice if
the bitterness either had lots of nudity or a point.
The worst thing
in the movie is Peet's story. She's a shitty actress who got pretty
far on her tomboyish good looks, but now she thinks she's gonna
turn herself into an "actor" by taking "gritty"
roles. Her character is dull and wears notably ugly clothes and
way too much time is spent with her when she means nothing. Similarly,
Steers seems to want to say something about Jeff Goldblum's rich,
land-developing philanderer, but I couldn't figure out what. Maybe
it's the tired and true Hollywood adage that rich people aren't
really happy or some other artifically flavored shit on a sugar
cone. Danes doesn't add much either. It's nice to see her back in
movies, but she sort of lost her innocent look. Now she looks like
a former teen star who had some run-ins with the law. And her part
of the story is loaded with scenes that are there just so Steers
could get some witty bon mots into the story.
blares the Goddamn soundtrack as though it were the Allman Brothers
and he drove a Camaro. Every so often, the movie is drowned out
by retro-rock that sounds like the selections of a poor-man's Wes
Anderson. The songs are a bit too loud and a bit too obvious, making
it seem like the flick is trying to get its "cool" credentials.
just another Salinger ripoff. It's better than most, but as unfocused
as those pictures I took of the squirrels that were humping in the
tree by my window in the middle of the night. Three Fingers
for Igby Goes Down.
to tell Filthy Something?