It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a new film from directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and is based on the novel of the same name written by author Ned Vizzini. It’s a comedy-drama combination film focused on Craig, played by Keir Gilchrist and the characters of Bobby and Noelle played by Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts.
Youth in Turmoil
The film begins with teenager Craig dreaming of his own suicide; his fears brought on by the pressure of his young life influenced heavily by the demands of his family and friends. Craig has issues, perhaps they are not any different at their core than the issues of other teenagers, but they are enhanced by the demeanor of Craig himself and the prestigious school which he attends.
After contacting a suicide hotline, Craig takes himself to the hospital to be admitted, where he first briefly meets Galifianakis’s Bobby dressed in doctor’s scrubs. Craig convinces the hospital that he needs to be hospitalized through his genuine desperation based on his fears of what he might do to himself. The teenage floor of the psychiatric wing is closed for renovations, so Craig finds himself mixed in with the adults, and the additional fear and lack of comfort in the surroundings make him have second thoughts. The hospital’s policy is a minimum of 5 days once admitted so for the time being he is stuck.
Facing Your Fears
Craig is forced to face his fears and self-doubt and confront his friends and family about his feelings with the help of his doctor, Bobby and Noelle, another teenage resident of the psychiatric ward. Between these two friends Craig has to find himself and the ability to be OK with his life, find what he really wants to do (which may not fit with his friends and family’s ideas) and what matters to him. There are stumbles along the way as is life. Ultimately Craig comes to a place where he can be happy by being himself and not trying to force himself into the mold that others have created for him.
Gilchrist’s Craig is believable, but the real strong performances come from his main support in Roberts and Galifianakis. Many people seem to be surprised when a comedian, noted mostly for being outrageously funny, takes a turn towards the serious and excels. To be a comedian in most cases is to understand rejection and depression and possibly have issues related to them; many of the greats did and have. Galifianakis does really well with this role, he is forced to strike a balance with the outlandish nature of his character and at the same time the seriousness of his life situation; what brought him to be in this place. He showed great restraint with the role and I would love to see more dramatic stuff from him.
Emma Roberts gives an understated performance, with what could have come across as a cliche emo-type character. She is expressive even through her subdued character with facial expressions and body-language. There are some nice supporting work from rest of the cast including some amusing work from Jim Gaffigan as Craig’s father.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
There are plenty of moments to laugh at in the film, but be prepared for the serious ones too. The crowd I watched the film with seemed to be expecting “Hangover“-crazy Galifianakis in a laugh riot. Due to that fact there was some laughing at inappropriate moments by younger film-goers, which was disappointing given the subject matter. It’s Kind of a Funny Story gets a recommendation from me for it’s good performances and portrayal of a slice of life that many experience but don’t feel like they can share with others.