WEATHER »
<strong>CRAZY KIDS:</strong>  Keir Gilchrist (left) plays a depressive 16-year-old who winds up in an adult psychiatric ward populated by an assortment of odd-ball characters in <em>It’s Kind of a Funny Story</em>.

CRAZY KIDS: Keir Gilchrist (left) plays a depressive 16-year-old who winds up in an adult psychiatric ward populated by an assortment of odd-ball characters in It’s Kind of a Funny Story.


It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Keir Gilchrist, Zack Galifianakis, and Viola Davis star in a film written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, based on the novel by Ned Vizzini.


In their bedazzling film Half Nelson, the married writer-director team of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden successfully marshaled dramatic intensity in a setting intensified by its close quarters—an inner city high school and the strained brain of a drug-addled teacher. Something similar unfolds in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, in which our 16-year-old protagonist (Keir Gilchrist) ends up, through circumstances, stuck in the adult psychiatric ward of a hospital for five days. There, he gets assorted wake-up calls, including the contrast of his tender plight and the less-hopeful cases wandering the halls.

Grounding the story—based on Ned Vizzini’s novel—in this tight, hermetic environment creates an atmosphere both claustrophobic and comforting, but the filmmakers take it outside, as well. These moments include AWOL field trips engineered by the ward’s charismatic, wild-haired maverick (played by the loveable goofball Zack Galifianakis), flashbacks, imaginary asides, and a fun-loving play-acting music video for “Under Pressure” that features characters from the ward.

If the prospect of a film based on a suicidal teenager’s pathway to wellness sounds grim, it isn’t in this case, or at least not entirely. Even from the early stages, as our young protagonist checks into the ER with reports of depression gone off the scale, we see the light in his eyes and the promise of recovery, partly through the power of love interests. In some way, the levity of the situation lightens the emotional load, while also diluting the reality of the context. Too quickly, the film’s premise descends into a semi-demeaning gallery of kooks and harmless rogues, a watered-down Cuckoo’s Nest for the “indie” generation. (Broken Social Scene provides the musical score, incidentally.)

While things get too smug for comfort and the film lacks the strength of earlier Fleck/Boden films (including the fantastic Sugar), Funny Story offers enough quirky goodness and emo warmth to make for a decent night at the movies.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

City College Ranked #1 by Value Colleges

High graduation rate, community service, and online degree programs made SBCC a 'flawless investment.'

News Commentary: Ribbon Cutting Is Not as Easy as It Looks

Grand opening for new Eastside bridge conveys a tingle of progress.

Santa Barbara Rental Prices Have Skyrocketed Over the Last Five Years

The average rent for a South Coast studio is $1,553.

Trio Stops the Show at Board of Education

More than a dozen appeal to Santa Barbara Unified School District to maintain music classes and programs.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Endorses Villaraigosa for Governor

Joyce Dudley preferred the former Los Angeles mayor’s positions on crime and education.