This is a movie that was put together for crass reasons and it led to a
product that is as tasteless as it is ill conceived. The theme of it seems to
be to introduce the adult potentials of a young actor by way of an edgy, hot
and supposedly mainstream film, to an audience that is going to see how grown
up he can be while pretending to be young and impressionable. The formula is
tainted with crudity while it puts the object of this fantasy into bed with
two beautiful grown up women. The contrived situation is nothing more than
cheap exploitation that trades on a hyper valuation of lust. The professional
production and a very impressive cast do not make the bad taste or the foul
smell of the intentions go away. Its appeal is to the witless and vulgar who
might wish they were in the shoes and bedroll of poor little Igby.
Igby (Kieran Culkin/Rory Culkin), essentially, is a disaffected youth,
seemingly far too hip and intelligent to pander to a disaffected mother
(Susan Sarandon) and disassociated, institutionalized father (Bill Pullman).
It would seem that the problems this family is having derive from their
wealth, but that's only a symptom of the disfunction of the household.
Heartthrob Oliver (Ryan Phillippe) is his brother, whose shoes Igby would
prefer, with his super polish and distant demeanor and haughty affectation in
speech and appearance. Oh, yes, and Oliver's easy conquests of all he
surveys, as well.
Igby also has the oily and lecherous D.H. (Jeff Goldblum), a wealthy
owner/landlord of high priced Manhattan real estate who is Igby's godfather
and erstwhile confidant. When Igby decides to head out of his parents' home,
he makes do with a bedroll in one of D.H. loft studio, the one with sexy
Rachel (ravishing Amanda Peet) as a tenant/girlfried always ready to make a
payment for her debt to him, only it's never in money. Igby likes what she
stands for, even admiring the chic heroin addiction. He doesn't quite square
it with the fact that she has avant-garde artist Russell on the side. When
D.H. becomes unhappy about the arrangement and holds out on her fix,
threatening eviction and total cut off, she gets strung out and Igby will
like her even more.
Then Sookie (Claire Danes) enters the picture to take the idea of youthful
conquest a step further and 19 year old Igby is finally living the life of
his brother. This continues until Oliver meets Sookie, intruding upon the
pair who are on the floor in the bedrole one fine morning and and applies the
charm and the machinery of lust. It's as easy and effective for this
Lothario as the morning cup of tea.
Igby is pained by the betrayal, both Sookie's and Oliver's, and the
realization that she prefers the brother that's closer to her age. At least
that's the reason she offers him through her locked door when he comes
pleading for her continued sexual attentions and companionship.
The general tenor of lust and immorality tends to wear out any possibility
of concern or sympathy, and with that out of the picture, there's not much to
keep you in your seat... unless it's the vacuous perversity of it all. It's
unrelieved emphasis on casual sex as an avenue to self-identity and as a balm
for disaffection, is a portrait of a depraved life style and the coming of
age of one who is adrift on a sea of false values.
First time writer-director Burr Steers worked as an actor in "Pulp Fiction"
and "The Last Days of Disco". His film comes off as the work of a cynical
writer pandering to a audience that's his superficial equal with what he
thinks is hip and hot. It's not. It's smug, pedantic and fabricated. Mr.
Culkin -- in fact all the Mr. Culkins -- should find vehicles for their
skills as actors that better exploit age-appropriate talent than sexual
~~ Jules Brenner