Igby Goes Down

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Igby Goes Down Movie Poster Image
Dark, depressing story that's for adults only.
  • R
  • 2002
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This film is almost wholly lacking redeemable characters. Everyone lies, cheats, disappoints, and abuses substances. Care/concern for others is wholly linked to a greater concern for oneself.


Physical and mental abuse suffered by the main character at the hands of various sources (parents, brother, teachers, therapists), assisted suicide.


Extramarital affairs, teenage sex, some mild nudity.


Much cursing by many of the characters, especially by the teenage hero.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The film includes pill popping, drinking, and pot smoking on the part of the main character, his friends, and his family. Substances are both the source and solution for problems. Characters show pride in wrapping the perfect joint. A main character suffers a heroin overdose, and the hero is paid to deliver drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that they should think twice about letting young teens watch this film. The hero suffers much emotional and physical abuse at the hands of authority figures. The film features teens and adults abusing alcohol, as well as illegal and prescription drugs. It also includes semi-graphic scenes of teenage sex and extramarital affairs. The characters use profane language freely. The film starts and ends with the assisted suicide of a character.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCameron D. January 5, 2019

Very cliche, very depressing, and very bad.

This film is a wannabe "Requiem for a Dream" that gets by on shock humor and cliches. The acting and screenplay are bad, and the film was so depressin... Continue reading
Adult Written bydalton81000 August 13, 2011


11 and under (RED)
12-14 (YELLOW)
15 and up (GREEN)
Teen, 17 years old Written byWillow.101 January 24, 2021

What's the story?

IGBY GOES DOWN tells the dark story of a trust fund baby (Kieran Culkin), whose family includes an abusive and insensitive mother ( Susan Sarandon), a depressive father in residence at the "Maryland home for the befuddled" (Bill Pullman), and his nasty overachieving older brother Oliver (Ryan Phillippe). Flunking out of school and smoking whatever he can find, Igby heads to New York to work for his godfather (Jeff Goldblum). In the city, Igby finds escape in a waitress (Claire Danes) and a drugged up artist (Amanda Peet). New York turns out to be less than the haven Igby had hoped for. He must navigate family secrets, disdain for his dying mother, and drug abuse as he tries to find himself.

Is it any good?

Igby Goes Down is a perfect vehicle for the depressed Generation Y teen. Only Kids can make this film seem like an upper. Full of trauma at the hands of deceitful and abusive adults, the film constructs the adolescent as almost helpless to the whims of those in power. The film lacks wholly redeemable characters. Even our hero -- stoned, escapist, and self-centered -- fails to come off as very likable.

However, this film has an engaging narrative and interesting (if not very nice) characters. The music of bands such as Coldplay and the Dandy Warhols underscores the edgy teen angst. Nominated for the Golden Globe, Culkin (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) does a fine star turn as the troubled Igby and proves to be more than just a footnote in the Culkin brood.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the parent-child relationship in their own family unit. How do you match up against Igby's parents? Does your child identify with Igby? They may also want to use this opportunity to talk to their kids about drugs and feelings of isolation.

Movie details

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