"Jaded Sixties Persist"
(AbAbAb, PaPaPa, Acap, HH, C, LLL, VV, SSS, NN, AA, DDD, M) Very anti-Judeo-Christian morality and anti-Christian with a surplus of pagan content, anti-capitalist politics of envy, Freudian psychobabble suggested and mocked, and a Christian funeral at the end; 56 obscenities and 7 profanities; godfather violently beats godson, cadets beat boy, mother attacks son, girl overdoses on drugs, and sons kill their mother by feeding her an overdose of pills and then suffocating her in a zip-lock bag; blatant fornication, including sex with underage boy, adultery, oral sex suggested, lesbianism, and transvestites; upper female nudity and rear male nudity; alcohol abuse; drug abuse, marijuana use, prescription drug abuse; and, lying, stealing, and cheating.
In IGBY GOES DOWN, a young man’s upbringing in the skewed, drug loving, escapist world of the rich and famous renders him unable to competently cope with the struggle of growing up. Though much of the 60’s tone of the movie rings true, the movie is too vicious, sarcastic and depressing.
IGBY GOES DOWN opens with a scene that is intended to shock audiences. Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin) and his brother, Oliver (known as Ollie), are sitting at the foot of their mother’s bed, discussing why she hasn’t died already from all the drugs they’ve fed her. Eventually, they resort to putting a zip-lock bag over her head, and she suffocates to death.
The movie flashes back to an elegant dining room setting, where the matriarch, Mimi, played with poignant bitchiness by Susan Sarandon, is viciously destroying her husband Jason (Bill Pullman) with her venomous attack on his character. She literally drives him insane, and eventually, he is committed to an asylum.
The other object of her fiendish vileness is her young son, Igby. Igby is actually the childhood name of his teddy bear, but every time he was accused of doing something wrong as a child, he would say, “Igby did it.” So Martha started calling him Igby, and the name stuck.
Igby is shown getting kicked out of various prestigious boarding schools in the northeast. He informs one dean at a church school that if “heaven is such a great place, how is getting crucified such a big deal.” Eventually his mother, whom he calls by her first name, because “heinous one” is too long, sends him to military academy. There, the older cadets take him down; hence, the title IGBY GOES DOWN.
With plenty of family fortune to spend, he runs away often. He’s into marijuana, alcohol, and sex. His mother is so frustrated that she tries to force her maid to give her oral sex. Igby’s ruthless capitalist godfather, D.H., played by Jeff Goldblum, tries to help him, but eventually goes ballistic when he finds Igby sleeping with his drug-addicted paramour. Igby and his brother also fight over the Scandinavian-looking Jewish girl named Sookie. The movie goes downhill until the murder and funeral of the despised matriarch.
The back-stories in IGBY GOES DOWN involve drug-addicts, transvestites, and the vacuous lives of the filthy rich on the East Coast.
IGBY GOES DOWN is doing very well in the limited art house release. The director/writer has captured the worst aspects of upper class life in the 60’s and set them in a timeless, adolescent, Holden Caulfield story. Having lived through that period in that environment, there is much that rings true, except for the jaded way that the movie demeans everyone. In fact, the perspective of the movie most often resembles the vile perspective of the “heinous one” Mimi. 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 direction is good, though sometimes tendentious. 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. Bill Pullman is over the top as a weak, sniveling, driven to insanity father. Kieran Culkin is usually on point as the insufferably spoiled Igby. Susan Sarandon as Mimi never misses a beat.
Even so, this look at the drugs, sex and viciousness of the rich and famous is so skewed and so unpleasant that it seems to be a misplaced exercise of talent. If you don’t want to be depressed, avoid IGBY GOES DOWN.
IGBY GOES DOWN opens with a scene to shock audiences. Igby and his brother are sitting on their mother’s bed, discussing why she hasn’t died from all the drugs they’ve fed her. Eventually, they suffocate her with zip-lock bag. The movie flashes back to an elegant dining room, where mother Mimi, played with poignant bitchiness by Susan Sarandon, is viciously destroying her husband Jason (Bill Pullman) with her venomous attack on his character. The other object of her fiendish vileness is her son, Igby. The movie tells of his Freudian rebellion against his horrible mother.
IGBY GOES DOWN captures the worst aspects of upper class life in the 60’s in a Holden Caulfield-type story. This is the poison pen of the politics of envy, which refuses to see the good in society. The Freudian message that every child's problems can be laid at the feet of their mother is insufferable. This look at the drugs, sex and viciousness of the rich and famous is so skewed and so unpleasant that it seems to be a misplaced exercise of talent. If you don’t want to be depressed, avoid IGBY GOES DOWN