It’s Kind of a Funny Story

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” opens with a dream sequence.  Craig (Keir Gilchrist), the movie’s central character, dreams of riding his bike to a bridge to jump off it in order to kill himself.  Before he can jump his mother (Lauren Graham), father (Jim Gaffigan), and little sister (Dana DeVestern) shows up to ask him if he bothered to consider what will become of his bike after he jumps.  That’s kind of funny, right?  Well, that’s the kind of humor we get from the writing and directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  Keep in mind this is their first attempt at comedy.

Instead of trying to kill himself, Craig checks himself into a psychiatric ward of a hospital.  He quickly decides he made a mistake and wants to leave before anyone at his school can find out where he went, but is informed he must stay there for at least five days for his evaluation.  While there he meets all sorts of characters including Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) a patient who helps Craig during his stay and Noelle (Emma Roberts) a girl his age in the ward who he likes. 

The movie focuses on Craig’s battle with his depression, how the others around him help and how he helps them too, nothing new for this kind of story.  The movie is not a straight comedy, but more of a comedy drama.  Boden and Fleck have done dramas before and they seem to have a difficult time delivering the comedy aspects of the movie.  Comedy is not easy to deliver, so it could be their inexperience with the genre or maybe only one of them should have been directing instead of two.  Not everyone can be the Cohen Brothers.  Usually directing teams don’t work out well for a movie.

The movie is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Ned Vizzini written about the time he checked himself into a hospital for depression.  Boden and Fleck were hired to write a screenplay based on the book and to direct.  They do a good job capturing the drama aspects of it and come up with some great visuals in the movie too, quite an accomplishment given the subject matter.  They do have trouble keeping focus on the subplot involving Bobby.  Given that Zack Galifianakis is the biggest star draw in this movie, more focus should have been paid attention to his character.  The movie is rated PG-13 for mature thematic issues, sexual content, drug material and language.