It's Kind of a Funny Story (tbc)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/10/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Enjoyable comedy/drama with an engaging script, appealing characters, a superb soundtrack and terrific central performances from Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis.

What's it all about?
Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, It's Kind of a Funny Story is based on the bestselling, semi-autobiographical novel by Ned Vizzini and stars Keir Gilchrist as depressed, vaguely suicidal 16-year-old Craig, who checks himself into the adult psychiatric ward and discovers, too late, that he has to stay there for a minimum of five days. Fortunately he's taken under the wing of worldly, wise adult patient Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and things improve considerably when he meets pretty fellow inmate Noelle (Emma Roberts).

The Good
Gilchrist makes an appealingly low-key lead as Craig and he generates sparky chemistry with Roberts, who's adorable as Noelle. There's also terrific support from Galifianakis, who reigns in his usual comic persona (which might seem odd, given that he's playing a mental patient) in favour of a quietly dramatic performance that's surprisingly moving.

In addition there's strong comic support from Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan as Craig's parents (and the suspected root cause of his stress-vomit problem), while Zoe Kravitz contributes a scene-stealing turn as Nia, the object of Craig's affections, who's started dating his best friend. On top of that, there's a superb soundtrack by Broken Social Scene and an inspired comic fantasy set-piece involving Craig singing Queen's Under Pressure.

The Bad
In their wonderful immigration-experience-slash-sports-movie Sugar, Fleck and Boden showed an admirable and extremely impressive resistance to the usual cliches of the genre and they attempt something similar here, but with less success – the film bills itself as a cross between One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and a John Hughes movie (there's an explicit nod to The Breakfast Club), but it lacks the dramatic and emotional impact of Cuckoo's Nest and ultimately suffers from the comparison. (If anything, the film has more in common with the work of Wes Anderson.)

In addition, though there are several delightful sequences and the evolving relationship between Craig and Noelle is well drawn, the quirky flashback scenes to Craig's home life seem forced and don't quite work (the worst example being a spoof of MTV's Cribs that belongs to a different movie altogether).

Worth seeing?
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an appealingly quirky comedy-drama with strong performances and an engaging script, though it's not quite as funny or as moving as it should have been.

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Content updated: 24/02/2020 12:30

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