Import Week, Day 2: Igby Goes Down

I get it.  If you're not one of the small circle who've seen 2002's Igby Goes Down, you probably have zero interest in it.  Rory Culkin might've grown up to prove himself as an actor in cool shit like Lords of Chaos.  But as a kid, we was just one of the "other" Culkins starring in what looks like a preening coming of age story.  I wouldn't want to watch it either.  But it's actually surprisingly good and I need it in my collection.  And for that, one has to import.
The only real hint we're given that there's more to this film is the supporting cast: Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Ryan Phillipe, Jared Harris, Claire Danes, Eric Bogosian, Cynthia Nixon, Jim Gaffigan and Amanda Peet, who actually can be good when she's cast in the right project (see: Please Give).  Any two or three of them could be slumming in god knows what trash production of the week, but finding them all grouped together suggestions something note-worthy's going on.  For one thing, it's a lot darker and cynically honest than whatever lame family film the poster suggests.  To give you a taste, it starts off with a man having a mental breakdown in front of his family, followed by two boys murdering their mother with a plastic bag.  This isn't another Home For the Holidays or Bend It Like Beckham sans soccer; there's a real Bret Easton Ellis twist to these proceedings.
Indeed, watching this, it feels very much like it's based on smart, contemporary novel that's just off your radar.  But no, it's actually a wholly original project written and directed by the actor who played Van the door man in The Last Days of Disco, Burr Steers.  He's gone on to a bunch of studio misfires I wouldn't recommend (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and some tepid Zac Effron star vehicles).  This was clearly his one, big passion project.  And now he's making a living as a gun for hire.  Good for him.  We'll always love Van.  But I can't help hoping he's still hiding another Igby inside him.
MGM released Igby on DVD as a new release in 2003.  It was a nice little special edition, but unfortunately the blu-ray update in the HD era never followed.  Except in Germany.  There, in 2020, Just Bridge released it as a fancy DVD/ BD mediabook combo-pack.  To this date, the usual standard edition BD in an amary pack has not followed, but that's okay.  We like mediabooks.  🙂
1) 2003 MGM DVD; 2) 2020 Just Bridge DVD; 3) 2020 Just Bridge BD.
So it looks like the same master at play here.  Even the two DVDs aren't strictly 100% identical, however, offering very slight improvements even before the jump to HD.  MGM's DVD is 2.30:1, which Just Bridge corrects to 2.35:1, which basically just fixes a little pinch.  Technically, it reveals a vertical sliver of info and takes away a horizontal one, but both are an arbitrary difference of a few pixels.  The newer DVD is also a shade darker in the highlights, which to me is more natural looking, but definitely a personal judgement call, and again nothing you'd notice without flicking back and forth between screenshots.  But then the BD is a nice little boost to high def.  The image is distinctly sharper with cleaner edges and natural, if light film grain in place of smudgy compression.  It's also another shade darker, even than the second DVD.

MGM and Just Bridge both give us the original 5.1 English mix, which is - wah, wah - lossy on all three discs.  Just Bridge's stupid German dub is lossless DTS-HD, though, if you care about that.  Anyway, MGM also offers French and Spanish dubs, plus optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, while Just Bridge, predictably, only offers optional German subs.
It's disappointing that Igby is DVD-only here in the states, but what isn't disappointing is the amount of extras they gave this neat, little film.  Steers give an active, informative audio commentary with Culkin in tow to lighten the mood and add a little more personal insight.  There's also a decent 17-minute 'making of' featurette that looks behind the scenes and a collection of deleted scenes, also with optional commentary.  And there's the trailer, a photo gallery and a couple bonus trailers.

Just Bridge's release includes all of the extras from the DVD except the audio commentary on the deleted scenes and the bonus trailers.  They made German subtitles for the audio commentary, and I guess they didn't feel it was worth it for the deleted scenes, so that's a little bit of a bummer.  As a mediabook, JB's set also includes a glossy, 20-page booklet, but of course the text is all in German.
So it's not perfect (lossy English audio, lost commentary for the deleted scenes), but it's a nice way to finally get this film in HD and with most of the bonus features.  Plus mediabooks are always kinda inherently cool.  It's a shame this didn't get a proper blu in the US, but if it hasn't gotten one by now, I'd say importing is probably the best shot we'll ever get, albeit holding out that slim hope that Kino will pick it up some day...

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