Igby Goes Down is an underrated gem in the rich-horror genre

I don’t know how many roles it takes for an actor to be considered the best at what they do. However, not many people think that Kieran Culkin shows that he has a knack for playing the odious youngest son from a wealthy family whose members are equal or even more obnoxious than him. Apparently, he’s best known today as Roman Roy, the creepy, creepy, hilarious young man you really can’t hate, on Heir. Heck, you could argue that, when Fuller wet the bed in Home alone, he nailed the prototype in his first movie. But 20 years ago, Culkin really cemented his place in my heart as the lucky brother. Just like his brother Macaulay is avoiding the limelight, Kieran got the lead role in Igby goes downplays a cynical, aimless, unhappy teenager from a wealthy old family.

Igby goes down is one of those movies that you could easily call a “hit classic,” because basically everything today is described that way. (Writers like to think that a movie they loved from a few decades ago deserves a fresh look even if it might not, and especially when it’s more popular than they realize.) But it feels like there’s something different from Igby—A movie that most people I talk to who have seen it around its release tend to love. Its legacy has little to do with its performance at the box office ($7 million on a $9 million budget), or whether Criterion plans to re-release it on Blu-Ray (it won’t). Instead of, Igby well worth celebrating because it’s one of the best docuseries of all time about fictional rich people who look great and act lousy.

But 20 years later, Igby goes down is one of those movies that has aged exactly what you want it to be. Set in New York City at the turn of the new century, the film shows a still a bit sad Manhattan, full of sexy girls who might live in lofts in Soho. The soundtrack has a Makeout Club, proto-indie vibe with tracks by Badly Drawn Boy and Dandy Warhols. (Watching the movie, you feel as though you caught a young Julian Casablancas staggering out of a bar.) The cast has also proven to be impeccable over time: you have cute, worthy old Jeff Goldblum love, today eccentric, sexy grandpa, plays a terribly rich guy. Claire Danes is a bored, young Manhattanite named Sookie Sapperstein. Ryan Phillippe, a few years away from his shitty rich son in 1999 Evil intentions, is Igby’s brother. The late writer Gore Vidal plays a priest. And at the center of it all, there’s Culkin in his prep school rebellious look with chinos, navy blazer and Chuck Taylors. He acts like a kid, but he’s a kid in a world full of adults acting even worse. What do you expect?

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