Igby Goes Down

Director: Burr Steers
Year Released: 2002
Rating: 1.5

Young Turk Igby is lost in life, dodging standard schooling and fighting with his alcoholic WASP mother (there's no such thing as 'standard parenting' in modern American films, where the parents are the children and the children are in charge) – he thinks of people around him as fools and, indeed, Steers paints everyone that way, from the ignorant (Goldblum's wife) to the conceited (Ryan Phillippe, who always sounds like he's in an Oscar Wilde play) to the drugged out (Amanda Peet and a scene-stealing Jared Harris) to the simply insane (Bill Pullman, who the director has coming to the dinner table naked and showering with his clothes on). It's American Beauty meets Catcher in the Rye in a battle of smugness and self-righteousness; you expect Igby to somehow 'grow up' at the end (it is a 'coming-of-age' story, 'coming-of-age' supposedly meaning 'maturing') but he never seems to, heading off into the sunset and nothingness. We can only hope that once he ends up in California he'll figure out what life is about, or near a carousel where he can muse on how 'goddamn beautiful' it all is.