It’s Kind of a Funny Story: It’s Kind of a Good Movie

8 10 2010

Starring up-and-coming funnyman Zach Galifianakis, It’s Kind of a Funny Story features a fresh cast in a quirky and heart-felt tale. And yeah, it’s kind of funny. Here’s the breakdown:

Craig is clinically depressed. Contemplating suicide, Craig decides it would be better to check himself into the hospital. But instead of a quick prescription or a feel-good therapy session, Craig find himself assigned to the hospital’s adult psychiatric ward for a whole five days. There, he meets Bobby, a bearded, be-sweated patient who introduces him to the ward’s many colorful denizens. Over the course of his stay, Craig struggles with love, friendship, and what it means to be happy.

The Monkey: Zach Galifianakis proves, once again, that he has staying power. Thankfully, his turn as Bobby is wonderfully underplayed. Shelving his characteristic over-the-top antics, Galifianakis brings an emotional weight to the story, acting as an anchor from which the other characters can ground themselves. This kind of subtle performance actually accentuates his comic moments, resulting in a wonderful blend of comedy and heart. Definitely his best performance to date.

Relative newcomer Keir Gilchrist plays Craig with the perfect amount of innocence and naïveté. This role could have easily succumbed to cliché and monotone emo pining; however, Gilchrist manages to make the angsty teen role seen fresh and new, and audiences won’t get annoyed watching his journey over the course of the film.

The story walks the line between teen angst and genuine depression remarkably well. Is Craig really, chemically depressed? Don’t all teenagers feel the stress of growing up, the stress of love and relationships? Is Craig being self-indulgent? It’s Kind of a Funny Story doesn’t answer all these questions, but presents both sides respectfully. At the end of the day, we all need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on – if it takes a five day stay in a psych ward, so be it.

The Weasel: Too often, the film seemed to be emulating Wes Anderson. With animated sequences of dreamy paintings, indie music plunking in the background, it felt self-conscious and derived. There weren’t enough of these moments to make it thematic, but there were too many to ignore. There’s a difference between a genuinely quirky dramedy, and a movie desperately trying to be a quirky dramedy – It’s Kind of a Funny Story slips into the latter category occasionally.

Emma Roberts plays Noelle, fellow teen patient. Surprisingly, she was the biggest hiccup in the movie. Her stilted delivery and uninteresting character made it hard to believe the budding romance between her and Craig. It was sad to see her character finally develop a personality in the last minutes of the movie, ironically, in a scene of freeze frames with voice-over – too little too late.

An interesting take on teen depression and the importance of perspective, It’s Kind of a Funny Story will garner accolades for Zach Galifianakis and Keir Gilchrist, but that’s about it.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was It’s Kind of a Funny Story a Wes Anderson knock-off? Did the movie adequately address teen depression and suicide? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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