Igby Goes Down (2003)

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Released 10-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Kieran Culkin (Actor) and Burr Steers (Director)
Featurette-In Search Of Igby
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Director's Commentary
Gallery-Photo-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:07
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Burr Steers

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Kieran Culkin
Claire Danes
Ryan Phillippe
Susan Sarandon
Jeff Goldblum
Amanda Peet
Bill Pullman
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Uwe Fahrenkrog Petersen

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Igby Goes Down is a movie I really wanted to like after having heard some positive critical feedback - indeed there is much about it to like, but at the end of it I felt unsatisfied. For me, it was reminiscent of The Royal Tenenbaums in that it is characterised by the fate of a quirky family with more character defects than the waiting room at the local shrink's office. It features some very likeable performances from an excellent ensemble cast, playing a bunch of generally unlikeable characters. Unlike The Royal Tenenbaums however, the wry humour is not as strong and there is a feeling of aimlessness about the film.

    Igby Slocumb (Kieran Culkin) is a spoiled rich-kid, who has been thrown out of every exclusive private school on the East Coast. He is part of a highly dysfunctional family living in Georgetown (Washington DC) - his father (Bill Pullman) is confined to a psychiatric institution, his mother (Susan Sarandon) is a middle-class junkie and his elder brother (Ryan Phillippe) is an arrogant snob studying at Columbia. Igby is intelligent but unmotivated and decides that it is time for him to break free from the family chains and forge his own path through life. When his godfather D.H. (Jeff Goldblum) offers him a temporary job, refurbishing his string of New York loft apartments, Igby finds a new circle of friends and relationships available to him.

    Sookie Sapperstein (the gorgeous Claire Danes) is a slightly older Bennington student with whom Igby falls in love. Unfortunately, his youth and innocence leave him wide open to betrayal and heartbreak. It soon becomes apparent that D.H. is more than just good friends with Rachel (Amanda Peet), who is living in one of his lofts. Rachel introduces Igby to Russel (Jared Harris), an apparently talented performance artist who spends most of his time supplying drugs to the middle class of New York. Igby and Rachel both become involved in this world - the former as a user and the latter as a mule.

    The remainder of the film plays out as Igby spends his summer in New York, interacting with the strange characters who fill his young world. The summer turns out to be rather formative, with Igby experiencing love, death, sex and betrayal before the movie ends. There is some black humour to be found buried amongst the convoluted plot, along with some pathos and some well written character studies.

    Igby Goes Down is by no means a bad movie. Indeed, for some people it may become a favourite film, I am sure. Unfortunately, despite the very good performances given by Culkin, Danes and Phillippe I could not help feeling that there was something missing from the film. It has a twisting plot in which we see quirky characters do quirky things, but they are all rather manipulative and generally fail to invoke any empathy in the viewer. This could have been a great movie, but turns out to be just good in an off-kilter way. Worth a viewing for the writing and performances, but rent before you buy would be my advice.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    The video quality of this transfer is fairly good and is generally free from major flaws.

    The video is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 which is marginally altered from the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Overall, the transfer is slightly soft with some minor grain in the backgrounds and occasional low level pixelization.

    The dark scenes show fairly solid blacks with little low level noise evident. Shadow detail is a little limited however, and the image sometimes heads into full blackness a little too sharply. Colours are generally a little muted, with a fairly cold colour palette used. The flashback scenes in particular make heavy use of whites and blues, but this is the deliberate choice of the director. There is no evidence of colour bleeding. Skin tones are natural throughout.

    The transfer has no major MPEG artefacts. There was some edge enhancement on occasion (for example at 1:39, 37:42 or 69:13), but I never found it to be overly distracting. Minor aliasing can occasionally be seen (the church at 7:23, the striped shirt at 21:36 or the car at 28:26 for example) but it doesn't ever become annoying.

    Film artefacts are occasionally present, but they are almost always very minor black or white flecks and can easily be overlooked. From this perspective it is a clean transfer.

    The English for the Hard of Hearing subtitles are well timed and easy to read. They follow the dialogue closely and provide suitable audio cues throughout. There are only a few words missed for the sake of brevity.

    This disc is single sided and dual layered (RSDL formatted) with the noticeable but brief layer change located at 53:28.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The overall audio transfer is robust and of good quality, but not overly memorable.

    The English audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. Whilst it is not going to prove much of a challenge to your home theatre speakers, it is satisfactory with no hiss, clicks, pops or dropouts noted. Dialogue is always clear and audio sync was consistently spot on as far as I could tell.

    The original music is credited to Uwe Fahrenkrog Petersen (the keyboard player on the Nena hit 99 Red Balloons) and is generally unremarkable. The most striking audio component is the use of various popular music songs - some of which are well chosen, and well integrated to the visuals and the vibe of the scenes in which they appear. They include numbers from Coldplay and Travis amongst others.

    The soundstage is largely frontal, which is not surprising given the heavily dialogue driven nature of the feature. The front speakers present the dialogue cleanly, and provide for some good spread across the front soundstage. The surround speakers are used, however, to provide some subtle ambient effects (for example street noises at 34:00 or rain at 62:17), and more heavily to provide quite an expansive soundstage when the musical numbers kick in. The music, whilst quite loud on occasion, never drowns out the dialogue.

    The subwoofer may carry some redirected bass from the musical numbers depending on your set-up, but there are really no LFE noises to be found in this soundtrack - as might be expected given the nature of the piece.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are some reasonable extras available on this disc.


    The main menu is a visually interesting collage of moving images from the film. It allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of thirty-two chapter stops, language and subtitle options and access to the following special features:

Audio Commentary

    This commentary features writer and director Burr Steers and star Kieran Culkin talking about the film and is light-hearted and quite entertaining. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps. It is available with optional subtitles.

Deleted Scenes

    Running for 10:08 and presented letterboxed at 2.30:1 (and therefore not 16x9 enhanced), these scenes are available with optional subtitles and director's commentary. The visuals are rather dark here, and it can be quite difficult to make out what is happening on occasion. The audio is rather quietly presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps. The addition of the commentary makes them more interesting.

Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery

    This runs as a slideshow for 2:15 and is both silent and fairly pointless.

Original Theatrical Trailer

    This trailer runs for 2:04 and is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this movie appears to be essentially the same as our own. Buy whichever is cheaper.


    Igby Goes Down is an interesting film which will not appeal to everyone. It requires some concentration to follow the convoluted plot and intricate dialogue. For those who "get it", it may become a favourite movie. For me, it was ultimately unsatisfying - not unpleasant to watch, but without any lasting impression. There are some very solid performances from the excellent ensemble cast, particularly Danes, Phillippe and Culkin, and very competent direction from rookie Burr Steers. I suspect we will see greater things come from this chap. Rent before you buy.

    The video quality is quite good, albeit with a tepid colour palette and some edge enhancement.

    The audio transfer is adequate, and suitable for a dialogue driven film.

    The extras are reasonable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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