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It's Kind of A Funny Story

It's Kind of A Funny Story Directed by: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: October 8, 2010

PLOT: Craig (Gilchrist) is a teenager who thinks his depression and suicidal thoughts merit a trip to a psychiatric ward. Once he learns that he can’t leave the ward for five days once he has signed himself in, Craig attempts to make the best of his experience. As he slowly comes out of his shell, he befriends the odd Bobby (Galifianakis) and the sweet girl-next-room, Noelle (Roberts).

WHO'S IT FOR?: This comedy will resonate best with the PG-13 viewers who think that Craig is wearing their shoes throughout the story. One can only imagine the droves of hoodie wearing young high schoolers marching out of this movie, feeling like they’ve seen a movie that truly speaks to them. As for those who have made it through adolescence, the connectivity to the movie will be smaller, and so will the patience be for a more unique story.

EXPECTATIONS: It isn't often that we get to see Galifianakis in a role with serious edge. And it was curious as to whether this movie would succumb to its quirkiness, or it would try to stand out visually from other movies with the same audience and goals.



Keir Gilchrist as Craig: This character is an example of where fitting in really isn't a positive thing. Easily, Craig can be lumped in with every other kid, along with performances of past that have been of "the regular, awkward teenager." This is good for the fact that he can be identified with by his target audience, but he lacks the specialty that a main character should have so that we can really care about them. Gilchrist can't spin awkwardness into humor, and becomes a plain gray presence in a sea of characters given much more color. Score: 3

Zach Galifianakis as Bobby: Everyone's favorite bearded comedian continues his gravitation towards oddball characters, this time using some slight resistance to be outwardly funny. Bobby is a relatively tragic character, despite his leadership tendencies and his goofy presence. More serious than some might expect, Galifianakis is mostly funny when the humor is intentional, though some jokes simply fall flat. We might recognize a similar structure compared to other Galifianakis characters, but this man balances even more desperately on the line between hopeful and pitiful. Score: 6

Emma Roberts as Noelle: This artsy girl has a slight uniqueness to her, as shown by her love for Vampire Weekend her tendency to wear an "I Hate Boys" t-shirt when interacting with boys. Noelle is a bit sweet, even if the love story that gives her most reason for existence does not have the same charm. Score: 5

TALKING: The philosophy of the movie is summed up by a quote stolen by Bobby from Bob Dylan: “He who is not busy being born, is busy dying.” Craig speaks teenage wisdom whenever he speaks, which isn't often, as his sentences are loaded with "I guess" and "I don't know." Score: 5

SIGHTS: A musical therapy session in the film allots for an impromptu music video of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” which takes on a funny warming spirit of its own. Other moments of the film lack the authenticity – more than once the film pauses to offer narration (such as in the beginning), and the movie fulfills the “quirky animation sequence” requirement. Usually these movies take care of that in their opening credit sequences, but Funny Story provides its audience with a venture through Craig’s drawings midway through the film. Score: 5

SOUNDS: Broken Social Scene contribute original pieces to the score, in between a soundtrack that features themselves and independent groups of less notoriety (like The Wowz, The Damned, and Mayer Hawthorne). Maxence Cyrin’s piano cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by the Pixies has a striking placement in the movie. And while this would be the perfect occasion to use the mellow Broken Social Scene track “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,” the song is nowhere to be heard in the soundtrack. Score: 6


BEST SCENE: Bobby's introduction to Craig is the funniest. "Why do you want to go to school in the summer? You should be out at Coney Island, bird-dogging chicks."

ENDING: A montage that presents the things in life that teenagers, not just those like Craig, that should matter most.

QUESTIONS: Read my interview with writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck here.

REWATCHABILITY: Possibly, but a second viewing would mostly be inspired by a hope to grasp onto Galifianakis' performance a bit more. The heart of the movie is relatively simple.


Sometimes it's sad when a movie's title is too true to its quality. The love story between the two leads is not as heartfelt as one about two kids meeting cute in a mental hospital could be, and the many special side-characters lack the proper amount of color to resonate. Galifanakis' performance maintains a good level of oddity, without resorting too much to over-labored, Hangover weirdness.

Kids just don’t understand - depression is not a growing pain. Thankfully, a movie like It’s Kind of A Funny Story exists, if simply to stand as an emotional placebo that can quell such narcissism. Unfortunately, the story seems to have a disorder of its own: normalcy.


Life As We Know It