It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a about a teenager committing himself to a psychiatric care facility. As an American, I think depression is on the rise in America. I am not sure if that is true. I do notice more movies and television shows and Kanye West albums dealing with depression. Maybe I am just more aware of things now than before 1987. I feel weird making sweeping generalizations about depression trends or statistics. However, it does seem like we are more aware of mental health issues these days. Of course, there is still a long way to go.
For a person who feels weird making sweeping generalizations about mental health, I sure do like to make sweeping generalizations about mental health. You know what else I like? THIS MOVIE!
Craig lives in Brooklyn and attends a prestigious public school. He feels his family does not fully understand him and thinks that he does not belong with his overachieving classmates. He has a best friend named Aaron, who has recently come into some assholishness. Craig is also in love with Aaron’s girlfriend, Nia. These things exacerbate Craig’s depression. He often dreams about jumping off of a bridge watched by his family. His depression reaches a point where he feels it necessary to check himself into a nearby psychiatric hospital.
That is where the real FUN begins.
Due to some maintenance/ remodeling, patients of all ages are in one ward. Craig meets lots of kooky characters with kooky ills, like his Egyptian roommate who doesn’t get out of bed, a Hasidic Jewish man who took too much acid and now has super hearing, and a beaver-drawing man named Humble. He also meets Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts’s niece, did you not know that!?). These people are important for reasons of mentoring and romance, respectively.
However, my favorite character was
WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE ISLAND ON OUR SUBARUS (Daniel Faraday is everybody’s constant).
So, Craig has adventures in the hospital and helps people. People help him! He makes people angry and people make him upset. One moral of the story is that everybody has problems and we should talk about things if we are getting sad. Another moral is that life is beautiful and there are so many things to accomplish and so many reasons to be happy. The last moral is that you will pull an unbelievable amount of pussy in a psychiatric hospital.
Ew, just kidding, not an unbelievable amount of pussy. Ew. Sorry. However, Craig does become the ward’s most eligible bachelor. He also wows people during group music therapy (everybody plays “Under Pressure” in a sequence that convinced me “Under Pressure” is the greatest song in the history of songs) and discovers some latent art talent. Thinking about it, Craig kind of becomes the best thing that ever happened to the hospital. He helps people with their problems, he brightens their lives. If Craig were named Jake Sulli and everyone in the hospital was blue, this movie would be Avatar.
Thinking more about it, It’s Kind of a Funny Story makes sure Craig does not totally become the savior of all these people. He has problems that the others help him solve. He makes dumb decisions. Keir Gilchrist never plays Craig as whiny or superior. Craig seems like a kid who is having a really tough time and not a kid who is having a tough time while yelling to the whole world about what a tough time he is having.
Galifianakis and Roberts help by being so likable. Noelle comes off as too Manic Pixie Dream Girl at times but Roberts deals with that admirably. Galifianakis’s Bobby is warm and inviting but still able to make the audience aware that everyone in the hospital has problems and issues. He’s also funny and sweet and oh look at me I am blushing, Hi Zach Galifianakis!
A lot of the sequences in the film are cheesy of the aw shucks variety rather than the ugh variety. The “Under Pressure” performance and the ending montage go for the warm and fuzzy part of the heart. They hit it. They hit it hard and make you want to ride your bike to Coney Island and just ENJOY LIFE.
There are a bunch of contemporary hip music references in the film that are a little silly. The Drums’ single we can believe in, “Let’s Go Surfing”, gives one of the scenes a good bounce but almost overcomes the Craig’s explanation of his school situation. Noelle and Craig talk about Vampire Weekend. I do like Vampire Weekend, but Vampire Weekend is totally the band that you would put in here. It’s not like the changing-your-life ubiquity the Shins found right after Garden State but more like “LOL Vampire Weekend” ubiquity Vampire Weekend found after forming Vampire Weekend.
Broken Social Scene actually provided much of the score. I love Broken Social Scene! They have a deep relationship with the writers/ directors of this film, since they all worked together on Half-Nelson. Right, Ryan Gosling?
So! It’s Kind of a Funny Story could fall in some places and turn into a grating movie. It doesn’t! It works well and is fun. You should go see it!