This is a surprising film. It is WAY better than advertised or even talked about! The trailer did nothing for the film, and it barely even gives you much in the way of the plot either. It is one of those rare jewels that pops up oh-so randomly – a film with heart that I never gave much consideration to. Thankfully, it was recommended to me (thanks, Lay-dee!).
“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is the story of Craig, a heavily-pressured teenage boy that is beginning to contemplate suicide. In fact, he’s been thinking about it for a while, but one night his thoughts begin to scare him. So, he rather maturely checks himself in to a Hospital for help. Once he is admitted, Craig thinks that it will be an overnight stay only to learn it will be for more than a week (as required by law). However, the children’s psychiatric ward is under construction, so Craig gets dumped into the Adult ward. Craig spends the next week or so finding out a great deal more about who he is and the person he wants to be. Along the way of this discovery, Craig also makes friends, realizes the difference between a crush and something much more real, and helps others confront their problems. That about sums up the plot, but this film is so much more than that.
The film surprised me. I didn’t know Keir Gilchrist, the young actor that plays Craig. Man is he good though! The character is written so well that I could believe Keir’s performance to be based entirely in reality. Nothing about his performance seemed scripted – it all felt very real, and very down-to-earth. In short, his performance was stunning. Keir Gilchrist is a name I will be watching for, and I believe he will have a great future. His performance was so touching and moving that it caught me completely off-guard. Since when does an unknown land such a meaty role and absolutely knock one out of the park? It seems like the last time I talked about such was when I reviewed “Super 8” (still an absolutely fabulous film). The supporting cast is unreal: Viola Davis (Oscar-nominated actress from “the Help”), Zach Galifianakis (proving once more that he is really an amazing talent), Emma Roberts (whose role was rather limited, but she too was utterly believable), Lauren Graham & Jim Gaffigan as Craig’s parents (a nice surprise there), and Jeremy Davies (from the hit TV show “Lost” who seemed utterly fitting for his role).
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck wrote the screenplay (adapted from the novel by Ned Vizzini) and co-directed this film. I don’t know them at all, but they did an amazing job with the material, the script, and directing these fine talents. “Utterly impressive” is how I would describe the final product. Maybe this film just flowed easily? Maybe these actors identified with their roles? All I know is that the story comes off as a beautiful telling of a young man’s struggle with regular, every-day problems and how he grows from this experience. In particular, the music session and Craig’s performance of “Under Pressure” (by Queen & David Bowie) was stellar! It was so perfect for the movie that I almost cried over it. THAT is how good this movie really is.
There are such real moments in this film that it makes you wonder how much of this story is fictionalized. The scenes with Muqtada are brilliantly done (well-done Bernard White, the actor!). Craig’s discovery of his artistic skills scene and the vomiting in bed scene are spot-on terrific! In short, this film is nothing like what I expected. It will touch you with the connections Craig makes, especially with Bobby (played by Zach Galifianakis). The ending is not some contrived happy-ending-tied-up-in-a-bow kind of ending either. It’s as brilliant as the rest of the film, if not better. “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” has this way of showing you something very real that is often looked right over by most people: those suffering from mental illness. There’re enough comedic moments to keep this story on the lighter side, and it avoids anything deeply depressive. It allows the viewer to extrapolate on some thematic elements without actually showing them in the movie, a nice touch.
“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is a great film, hands-down, and I could write a ton more about how impressive this little-talked-about film is. However, I would rather you experience it for yourself. I highly recommend the movie and I think a lot of teenagers could easily relate to Craig’s situation. They may even seem similarities between Craig and themselves. And that, my friends, is VERY encouraging. Craig handles a lot of stressful situation in the film, but he does so with great maturity and empathy. BRAVO!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE
- Charlie Bartlett (reelvoice2013.wordpress.com)