Igby Goes Down<br/>Dumb And Dumberer<br/>A Guy Thing<br/>Springtime In A Small Town<br/>A Snake Of June

It would make a great book...
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Igby Goes Down (15) is a post-Catcher In The Rye teen-angst movie, and as such it asks us to sympathise with a self-absorbed brat who sees an abundance of sexy girlfriends, billionaire benefactors and vast homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons as his own private hell. That's asking a lot. But Burr Steers, the uniquely named writer/ director, just about gets our assent.

Igby Goes Down (15) is a post-Catcher In The Rye teen-angst movie, and as such it asks us to sympathise with a self-absorbed brat who sees an abundance of sexy girlfriends, billionaire benefactors and vast homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons as his own private hell. That's asking a lot. But Burr Steers, the uniquely named writer/ director, just about gets our assent.

Kieran "Macauley's younger brother" Culkin stars as Igby Slocumb, a petulant 17-year-old whose patrician family makes up in money and snobbery what it lacks in stability and warmth. He's been "kicked out of most of the schools on the east coast", and when he's due to finish his secondary education in a military academy, he goes AWOL and hides out in bohemian New York. We really shouldn't care, but Steers keeps the tragicomedy fast and furious, never letting a scene go by without an injection of acid sarcasm or grotesque characterisation. Usually, we know what to expect when Susan Sarandon and Jeff Goldblum are on screen, so it's a pleasure to watch them playing against type as Igby's noxious, pill-popping mother, and his sleazy, barrel-chested godfather.

The film's problem is that it's overstocked with such characters. Bill Pullman, Ryan Phillipe, Amanda Peet, Clare Danes and Jared Harris are all excellent in intriguing roles - so excellent that it feels like we've only just scratched the surface of their stories. It's as if the film were a hurried adaptation of a hefty novel, which is not too far from the truth.

Steers started drafting Igby Goes Down in prose, before scrapping it after a few chapters and refashioning it as a screenplay. I wonder if a book wouldn't have made for a more satisfying experience.

Dumb and Dumber was a breakthrough movie both for the Farrelly brothers, who wrote it, and Jim Carrey, who starred in it, so to make a high-school prequel that does without Carrey and the Farrellies would appear to be Hollywood's dumbest plan yet. But Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (12A) is far funnier - funnierer, even - than it should be. Eric Christian Olsen is a better Jim Carrey than Jim Carrey is, and, in general, the makers have grasped what made the first Dumb and Dumber what it was: while most movies tell us that educationally subnormal people are pure, poetic souls with their own ingenuous wisdom, Harry and Lloyd are treacherous, violent and appallingly unhygienic.

There's no need for me to review A Guy Thing (12A) because you've seen it already. It's the film in which an uptight, middle-class man (Jason Lee) is engaged to an uptight, middle-class woman (Selma Blair), but then he meets a free-spirited, unsuitable girl (Julia Stiles), so he lightens up and falls in love with her. However often you've seen the film before, though, it's never been less amusing or convincing than it is this time.

Springtime in a Small Town (PG) is a period melodrama from Tian Zhuangzhuang, maker of The Blue Kite. It's set in 1946, as a young doctor returns to his home town to find that the war has left it in ruins. The doctor's best friend isn't in a much better state. Ill health has drained the strength from his body and the communication from his marriage - and his wife is the very woman that the doctor once nearly married. The idea is that a volcano of repressed passion is bubbling beneath the characters' mundane small talk, but you have to sit through a lot of mundane small talk before you notice any volcanic passion.

A Snake of June (18) is a surreal pervo-thriller, artily shot by Shinya Tsukamato in blue-and-white on a television-shaped screen. For the first half hour, it's about a woman who is blackmailed into enacting a voyeur's sexual fantasies. After that it goes bananas in the manner of Davids Lynch and Cronenberg, so if you do see it, feel free to email and tell me what on earth was going on.

n.barber@independent.co.uk.

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