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It's Kind Of A
Funny Story


a film by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

It's Kind Of A Funny Story does for the mental hospital what Juno did for teen pregnancy - make it, with the exception of a few minor hiccups, look like one long pizza party. Frail and stereotypical (it is based on young adult fiction after all) this story of a sixteen year old with typical teen angst issues, who admits himself into a psychiatric hospital (is that even legal?) portends its desired legitimacy by having its main character say, at the supposed uplifting end of the film (an ending that many naive teens have hailed as revelatory), that he has not been cured - that it could not be as simple as that. Of course every other moment in this film (gee, mom, its fun to be in a mental hospital) says otherwise.

The movie's PG-13 addled triviality aside, there is some good somewhere in there. It may not be in its superficial look at the mentally ill (let's all go to the psych ward and fall in love!) - a flippancy which, just like in Juno, integrates the film like a happy face parasite - but hidden in there somewhere, there is something worthwhile. Granted this something I speak of may not be something strong enough to save this quite childish movie, but it is something indeed. This something is Zach Galifianakis. His nuanced performance (the only one in the movie btw) shows the potential this film has - if only it could have lived up to such, instead of being the immature folly that we are stuck with. Potential be damned!!

Instead we are handed something as irresponsible as the aforementioned Juno (at least we don't have to listen to Diablo Cody's insipid hipster dialogue). Showing merely the most benign of psych ward problems and giving all their characters quirky affectations in place of real mental issues (gee I am glad nearly everything worked out fine in just five days!) the filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have dropped the ball on what has, up til now, a promising directorial career. After the heightened intensities of Half Nelson and the sheer subtle brilliance of Sugar, it is a shame the material here is such a let down for these co-directors. Save for Galifianakis and his surprising ability to relay so much emotion in that strange bearded mug of his, It's Kind Of A Funny Story is mere falderal. [10/21/10]

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