It’s Kind Of A Funny Story
In the dark comedy, IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, we follow one teen as he comes to terms with his depression by checking himself into an adult psychiatric hospital early one Sunday morning instead of jumping off a bridge. The story and heart come from what happens to Craig (expertly played by Keir Gilchrist who instantly made me think of a teen version of Justin Long) and the relationships that form while he gets help.
The thing that makes this movie work is that everyone can relate to the angst of being a teen. The pressure of wanting to make your parents proud, live up to expectations you or your peers have unnecessarily created, and feeling like a dork or an outcast. Everyone can also relate to the feeling of gaining control of those emotions while embracing hidden talents and learning how to make yourself and your family proud. Or, if you cannot relate to that, you can relate to the hope of one day feeling that control and self appreciation. As Craig’s doctor in the film quoted “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
After first being introduced to Craig, we meet another patient on the psychiatric ward, Bobby (Zach Galifianakis). As I have only known Galifianakis as a one note character from seeing him in 2001’s OUT COLD and later witnessing the same (funny) shtick in THE HANGOVER; I was surprised, pleasantly, when he wasn’t the usual bumbling buffoon we have grown to love. He was soft, smart and gentle. I loved how he held back and didn’t show all his cards at once. Seeing how he encouraged Craig but beat himself up in the same breath was heartwarming and heartbreaking at once. Their friendship seemed really special and naturally developed.
Noelle (Emma Roberts), another teen living in the psych unit is Craig’s love interest. Their budding relationship was adorable yet hokey with some really unnecessary scenes. For example, when they are running through the hospital it is very BREAKFAST CLUB-esque. But the lingering looks, hand drawn cards and love tokens are sweet in a youthful way.
The rest of the ensemble cast, Craig’s mom and dad (Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan respectively) and the remainder of the patients and staff at the hospital all did a great job with their roles. The guy with super sensitive hearing was one of my favorites. Seeing Gaffigan as a jerky father was a blow. Give that man something funny to do or say! But he did his job as the absent father well even if it wasn’t a role I would have picked out for him.
I really enjoyed seeing the way this story unfolded and how some scenes were told with snapshots or through Craig’s imagination and memory. When it is song night at the hospital and Craig and the rest of the psych ward misfits sing David Bowie’s Under Pressure, I love how we are flipped into Craig’s imagination where everything turns rock and roll, sparkle and glam. For being such a dark comedy, it felt light and hopeful, even if there were some predictable moments.