It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Really, it is!
by Samm J.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Written and Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Focus Features (2010)
With its striking screenplay, award-winning cast, and quirky sense of humour, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is a film that effortlessly lives up to its name.
The plot chronicles a week in the life of sixteen-year-old Craig (played by Keir Gilchrist), a clinically depressed teen who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward after seriously contemplating taking his own life. Craig’s main problem seems to be that he is unsure about the reason behind his suicidal feelings, and it is only when he is thrown in among “the crazies” for a five day evaluation period that he begins to sort through his own troubles. Almost immediately he befriends fellow patient Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), who aids Craig in overcoming his issues – including getting him to work up the nerve to ask out Noelle (Emma Roberts), another teen in the ward trying to sort herself out. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck manage to mask the pain of these solemn and very real struggles with humorous overtones, while still maintaining a base level of seriousness.
As for the character portrayals, every actor brings something sufficiently awkward to his or her role, which is amazingly necessary in a film such as this. Gilchrist, the main protagonist, does a particularly phenomenal job at keeping up his discomfited demeanour in every situation he’s thrown into. He is so uncomfortable that the audience feels the same way, especially in the scenes where he is confronted by his physiatrist. As he attempts to explain to her why he is feeling suicidal, his facial expressions and body language exude an evasiveness so poignant that it produces much squirming among the viewers at home. He is so brilliantly real.
Everything about this film is authentic. Every set piece, every camera angle, every note played in the soundtrack adds to the sincere mosaic of the world in which the characters reside. The directors worked very hard to make every aspect of the film follow the same disposition. The lines delivered tell the story while retaining an environment filled with straightforward nonsense. During various scenes there is no music playing whatsoever, and it gives an extra level to the reality of it all; nothing in a film seems quite as fantastical without a backtrack, and this movie plays that knowledge to its advantage.
When there is music, however, it only enhances the experience. The tunes range from edgy rock guitar solos to light piano melodies, depending on the necessity. There is no fear of switching it up or applying different genres, which reflects the mishmash of personalities of the characters. Another great recurring effect found in the film is the time-lapse reminder that appears every few scenes. Craig is in the institute for five days, and at the beginning of each morning the screen blacks out and displays the weekday name. This editing choice not only keep the viewers on track, but it also gives the movie a slight dragging feel, as if nobody can believe that it has been so few days since he’s been admitted. The editor also lets long silences pass between the different scenes, which makes everything all the more awkward and essentially heightens the movie’s vividness.
Overall, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is a film that is unquestionably worth watching. Most people could enjoy it, unless they happened to be turned off to quirky stories. The plot is beautifully thought out, and, although it is a book adaptation and thus has most likely lost some of the originally rich details, it will most ardently pull at the heartstrings. I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a delightful way to pass the time.
Samm J. is a grade 12 students who is passionate about the films in which she indulges.