Monday, December 29, 2003

I finally managed to catch Brother Bear and Igby Goes Down today.

Brother Bear was, as with all Disney animated features, filled with children-friendly tunes and a rather simple message - that we're all friends in nature. And that's really about everything I have to say about the movie. It's been a long time since I last caught a non-PC-generated Disney movie in the cinema and it just struck me just how old I have grown, sitting among all the young kids and parents in the audience. That, and the fact that it's not a great movie. There were no moments that really grabbed me and nothing original. In fact, some parts of the dialogue reminded me of Shrek, and I just had to wonder whether Disney was copying Dreamworks.

Igby, on the other hand, was a much more complicated movie to grasp. It's a darkly funny show, and the acting displayed by Kieran Culkin (as the titular character) is amazing. Susan Sarandon as the overbearing, domineering, drug-addicted mother is magnificent and Claire Danes, as the love interest of both Igby and his brother, Ollie (played by a rather handsome Ryan Philippe), wasn't too bad herself. In the few scenes that Bill Pullman, as Igby's schizophrenic father, has in the show, he is also pretty darn good. Jeff Goldblum, as Igby's godfather D.H., puts in an above average performance as a patronising wealthy hypocrite who solves problems by throwing money at them. The movie is of course about Igby, his dysfunctional family, how he rebels against everything, how he hates his mother, keeps trying to run away from the plans his mother has for him and his presumed destiny (ending up in a nervous breakdown, just like his father), and in the end, how he comes of age.

SPOILERS! There were quite a few hilarious moments in the show, such as when Igby talks to Sookie (Danes), asking her if she's a vegetarian, given how she's rolling the marijuana joints so neatly, saying that she rolls "salad joints" not "big juicy cheeseburger" joints. Another scene between Igby and Sookie that made me laugh was when he, after she had said, "You're funny" so many times, asked, "Instead of saying that, why don't you just laugh?" and she gives this really fake laugh, and says, "Is that better?" "Much," he replies. There're other bits of witty and ironic dialogue that take place throughout this show, similar to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. One not-to-be missed scene that is far too long to recap is the party in D.H.'s house in the Hamptons where among other things, D.H. flirts with his mistress right in front of his wife and Igby meets Sookie for the first time.

There're some powerful scenes as well, such as midway through the show, Bill Pullman is shown taking a shower in his pyjamas, then punching out the glass shower wall, telling Igby that he feels "a great pressure coming down on him", illustrating to us why it is that Igby behaves the way that he does - because he's afraid that he'll end up like his father, who he's named after, that after fulfilling all these great plans in life, he'll end up succumbing to schizophrenia in his 40s and have to be put in an institution (i.e. "goes down"). Another scene occurs when Igby, after watching his cancer-ridden mother die, hurls himself onto the bed, begins beating up his mother's corpse and then pleads with her to "wake up!". It's an immensely revealing moment, when after seeing Igby proclaim about how much he hates his mother, even to the point of almost refusing to return home to see his mother as she's dying, that we finally see how he feels for her. This is in sharp contrast to Ollie, the ambitious, efficient, picture-perfect son, who, even as he feeds his mother poisoned yoghurt (at her request) tells her that he has no wish to have to do this again, and just before he feeds her the first scoop, tells her "much love".

But the best scene has to be when Igby runs to Sookie's place, just as he begins to fear that he has started on the long slippery descent towards insanity, and asks, then begs her to come with him to California because he needs to escape from New York. She refuses to open the door, and we, the audience, can see that plainly, she must be in bed with someone, and we suspect that it's with Ollie. Igby pleads with her, telling her that in no way would Ollie ever marry her, that he's just using her, and that despite the fact that she's been cheating on him with his brother, they're still friends, and that he wants her to come with him. She starts to cry, telling her to get lost, and it's clear to us that his words do affect her greatly. The scene ends when we're on Igby's side of the door, the door opens and Ollie walks out, telling Igby that he's a "glutton for punishment". This is Igby at his darkest hour.

Thankfully, as with most humourous films, the film ends on a happy-ish note, with Igby making peace with the rest of his family, and leaving for California, with renewed hope on his face.

I really do have to stop watching all these movies that force me to think, but then, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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