Universal // 2010 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 10th, 2011
Sometimes what's in your head isn't as crazy as you think.
The creative filmmaking duo behind Half Nelson and Sugar is back in action, and with It's Kind of a Funny Story, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden prove yet again that a simple story can indeed go a long way. They successfully paired a bunch of intriguing characters with an energetic group of fabulous actors, and the result is a heartwarming coming-of-age comedy that follows a troubled teenager's journey to a more blissful existence.
Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, the film introduces us to Craig (Keir Gilchrist, United States of Tara), a depressed 16-year-old who checks himself into a mental health clinic to get rid of his suicidal thoughts and find a way to cope with his stress. Unaware of what he's about to experience in this new environment, Craig embarks on a five-day adventure fueled by new friendships, unexpected conflicts, potential romances, and a solid dose of essential life lessons destined to help him overcome his little predicament.
It may not qualify as the year's best movie, but it's hard not to fall in love with It's Kind of a Funny Story, a little inspirational indie whose delightful characters and blunt comedy easily overshadow the film's rather simplistic storyline. If there is one thing that sets this one apart from most coming-of-age flicks out there, it's the compelling sincerity of all the new friendships Craig strikes up during his stay in the psychiatric ward.
You see, now that Craig gets to be around people with much bigger problems, he slowly starts to realize that his own life is in fact not as messed up as he thought. In other words, interacting with patients unable to shake off their mental conditions eventually teaches him to embrace his sanity and consider each day a unique opportunity to enjoy his existence to the fullest extent.
Luckily for us spectators, most of the conversations Craig has with his fellow patients range from deeply emotional to utterly hilarious. Craig's most crucial relationship at the hospital is with a guy named Bobby (Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover), a suicidal father whose heartbreaking dilemma helps the youngster to look at life with a more positive attitude. Coincidentally, Bobby is also the instigator behind the movie's wonderful humor, delivering a horde of witty remarks to keep things light and remind audiences they're actually watching a comedy.
It's Kind of a Funny Story also wouldn't be the same movie without Galifianakis' presence. The guy simply hits all the right notes every time he's onscreen, and both his character and performance inject the film with all the energy it requires to keep us entertained and interested. Still, Boden and Fleck made sure Galifianakis doesn't completely steal the show, and I must admit Keir Gilchrist proves to be a very capable lead here. His acting in the film is just as sincere as everybody else's, and if he keeps up the solid work, he'll have a great career ahead of him.
Additionally, one of the main reasons I really enjoyed watching him in this is his ability to share great chemistry will all supporting actors, including Emma Roberts. Roberts plays the only other teenage patient at the clinic, and she and Craig establish a delightful romance accounting for most of the film's "cute" moments. You know -- those blissful little scenes in which two future lovebirds get all flirty and stuff. Roberts does a fabulous job, and she and Gilchrist make a wonderful onscreen couple.
Boden and Fleck know how to generate a light, entertaining feel-good movie, and It's Kind of a Funny Story benefits from a superb execution in all production departments. The film is beautifully shot and features a great soundtrack and inviting set decoration, and on Blu-Ray, it all looks splendid. The disc includes a clean 1.85:1 non-anamorphic presentation of the feature with sharp image quality and vibrant colors, and in terms of audio, we're in for a DTS-HD Master audio transfer that sounds neat on a decent surround sound system.
The bonus material on the DVD includes a bunch of deleted scenes and a few funny outtakes, most of which show Galifianakis engaging in some hilarious ad libbing. Also included are a rather disappointing behind-the-scenes look and a very brief piece with some footage from the film's New York premiere. Nothing special there.
It's Kind of a Funny Story has a lot to offer. Imaginative and filled with good intentions and a pure heart, this little gem of a film serves as a perfect Saturday night diversion for all those who enjoy some good laughs and don't mind taking in a few simple lessons about the beauty of life as a teenager.
It's kind of not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes