It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Fleck Away

         
 

15 October 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is just that. It is not really going to be watched by anyone except by those who like to watch indie films as a chore, since this will be no breakout indie in terms of artistry or popularity. If that’s you, then you could do a lot worse. It is written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden and if you know those names that might give you a reason to watch it (they made “Half Nelson,” “Sugar”). Keir Gilchrist, looking like Bastian from “The Neverending Story,” plays the depressed and overachiever 16-year old teenager Craig Gilner. After volunteering that he is a suicide risk, Craig is admitted into the psychiatric wing of a hospital for seven-day observation. He wants to get back to his homework, and friends, but now he can’t.

You almost want to say that Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”) is worthy of an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. As Bobby, a man-child that can no longer bear the stress of the real world and being a husband and father, Galifianakis is a real scene-stealer. His performance is nearly matched by Emma Roberts (“Valentine’s Day”) as the 16-year old cutie-pie Noelle who actually made a suicide attempt. Viola Davis (“Doubt”) is just decent as the ward staff psychiatrist.

The thing about mental hospital movies is that they inevitably spend the entire running length there and boredom clouds us as much as clouds its protagonists. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) is virtually the only nuthouse movie that keeps you riveted. The filmmaking here is highly skilled, without a doubt, and yet interest declines. One could be on the fence about whether this film deserves a three star or merely two-and-a-half star rating, and I was leaning on the high end until a highly improbably visit by high school classmate made me dock the grade. Nia (Zoe Kravitz) stops by to check on Craig, and to make-out with him. Would a girl like Nia really be surprised to find, that at the mental hospital, Craig probably has a roommate? Would a girl like Nia really been able to locate the correct wing where Craig was staying?

Nia freaks out which is no good, but there are nevertheless more entertaining freaks of nature in this offbeat comedy such as the fuss around a coin operated phone. The screenplay ennobles Craig as he tries to be peacemaker between some of the committed who seemed lost before his arrival. But it’s Galfianakis that our hearts return to, especially poignant and by means hilarious when he stresses out feverishly about how he has nothing to wear but his hobo-smelling sweater to his psych evaluation interview.

101 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

COMEDY-DRAMA / REFLECTIVE TEENS / RAINY AFTERNOON MOVIE

Film Cousins: “Titicut Follies” (1967); “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975); “Ordinary People” (1980); “The Son’s Room” (2001, Italy).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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