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It’s Kind of a Funny Story

October 10, 2010

Director John Hughes created a masterpiece in 1985 with The Breakfast Club. Through believable performances, fantastic dialogue and a great soundtrack, he told the story of five misfits stuck in detention who bond over their common feelings of displacement in life. There were moments of laughter, tears and anger but by the end most viewers feel a sense of cathartic joy as Bender walks away towards the camera, throws his fist in the air and Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” plays while the image freezes. In 2010 directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck seems to have attempted the same with their dramatic comedy It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a story of a group of misfits in a mental home and the bonds they create. While the two films aren’t initially comparable themes from The Breakfast Club appear in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, the difference however is the latter isn’t really heartwarming or funny, just lackluster and unoriginal.

When 16-year-old Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) realizes that his thoughts of committing suicide may actually become a reality he desperately checks himself into a mental institute to stop the fantasies. However what he thinks will be a quick one day evaluation with stronger prescriptions to hinder his clinic depression, becomes a mandatory five day stay. Due to the hospital’s renovations Craig, along with a few other teenagers are mixed together with the adult psych ward. There he meets a slew of various patients with myriad mental disorders including Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), an eccentric patient who takes Craig under his wing. Through his time in the ward Craig has to learn to let go of his fears of the future and get busy living his life to the fullest.

The problem with It’s Kind of a Funny Story is frankly everything. The story plays out with unnecessary voice over narrative from Craig and is filled with over the top fantasy sequences that represent what goes on his head. While it’s an amiable attempt to give the audience allegiance and empathy for Craig, the scenes lack humor and charm making it hard to even care about Craig’s self-induced problems. The scenes play out much like the Nickelodeon cartoon “Doug,” a show that follows the life of a 12-year-old boy with an overactive imagination which the audience is shown in detail through fantasy and dream sequences. While these types of cut-aways have their place, it comes off cliché and forced in a dramatic comedy about life in a psyche ward.

The film’s direction and screenplay by Boden and Fleck makes It’s Kind of a Funny Story bland and confusing. The film is cast with a slew of comedic actors such as Galifianakis, Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan yet each character’s role is subdued, downplayed and unfunny. Instead of leaving much of the comedy to the main characters, the film oddly uses the background characters’ mental disorders and outbursts to bring laughter to awkward scenes. Galifianakis is undoubtedly the most humorous character in the film yet his lines and actions are repetitive of nearly every character he’s recently played in films. Furthermore his dramatic scenes are impressive and engaging yet they are so few and far between that they are nearly forgotten. Gilchrist and Emma Roberts as Craig’s love interest Noelle have potential in their roles but don’t deliver anything more than just being moody emo kids.

The PG-13 rating is basically an indicator of the film’s quality. While PG-13 films recently have been able to interest audiences of all ages such as Salt, Inception and Easy A, It’s Kind of a Funny Story only seems to appeal to 16 years old and under. It’s not an impressive film and I spent much of my time watching it annoyed that I everything I predicted would happen did. If the film sparks an interest though wait until DVD to watch it instead of wasting $10 on a film that’s kind of a crappy story.

AVOID IT. It’s kind of a forgettable story.

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