High school is a trivial and challenging place for a teenager. Anxiety can occur, the amount of pressure from the family builds up, and the stress of dating are all nightmares for a teenager then depression can kick in. These are challenging themes in It’s Kind of A Funny Story, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s adaption of Ned Vizzini’s novel.
Craig (Keir Gilchrist) is just another 16 year old caught in the trap of anxiety when it is time to build up the college résumé and applications. Constantly worrying about approval from his father, friends, and peers. However, burdened by the pressure our antagonist contemplates suicidal thoughts while cycling over the Brooklyn Bridge. Although not wanting to leave his family in a state of ruins by committing suicide, Craig leaves the bridge and instead checks himself into a psychiatric ward known as 3 North.
Due to some renovations with the hospital the teen patients are mixed in with the adults. There he is guided by Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) a clinically suicidal patient himself with the Fagan-like characteristics from Oliver Twist taking him under his wings. Bobby gives Craig an overview of what happens on a daily basis and introducing the various inhabitants of the ward. Craig vents and gets the help he looks for in Dr. Minerva (Viola Davis) but also finds true romance with another patient Noelle (Emma Roberts).
Over the course of five days in the ward, the maximum for patients unless requested otherwise by doctors, Craig builds true relationships and learns to live in the moment, not worrying about building up others expectations of himself, and ignoring the pressure.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story may be a bit clichéd but oh my god, it is highly engaging due to the actors filtered throughout. Like any other movie in the genre where a character learns about the complexities of the human psyche, it can push boundaries and offend. However, this was not necessarily the case for my viewing. This is another relatable story that someone can emphasize on how pressure can be someone’s own downfall. It’s a much lighter affair than the dreary institute described in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. There is no evil Nurse Rachett to keep patients locked up. Both the staff and patients alike provide the strength and support Craig yearns for in order to be stable.
Keir Gilchrist, known mostly for his role in the United States of Tara, is perfectly cast as our antagonist. Bringing a fresh sort of awkwardness to a teen struggling to live up to the spotlight that his dad created for him. His buddying relationship with Zach Galifianakis’s character is a great part of the movie where one can never be too protective over the other.
At times they reflected the sort of spirits of Ralph and Billy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Bobby and Craig are in sync. Here, Galifianakis puts a lid on his over-the-top comedic antics. Instead of providing the forced talent seen from Due Date or The Hangover, he brings poignancy to his character. Since this is not a flat out comedy, you are able to view a softer side of the comedian and his craft in drama. Hopefully we can see more of this range in the future. TV favorites Jim Gaffigan and Lauren Graham are adequate as Craig’s parents. Showcasing the modern family where the husband is more involved in his work and the wife is the sole nurturer. Gaffigan hangs up his dry humor and Graham leaves her Lorelai Gilmore parenting at the door, and they are perfectly molded into roles.
What solidifies the movie as one of my favorites was the musical interlude during the ward’s jamming session. The whole gang breaks out into song and begins to mimic in karaoke-style the David Bowie and Queen classic “Under Pressure”. Decked out in glam rock fashion with all the trimmings. It is a poignant song that rings as a true anthem for all those feeling the heat of depression, wanting to scream at the top of their lungs to be let out. To be free of the limitations that have been put upon them and having a second chance. The film works best in that regards, and is something not to be missed.
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