Film: Teenage angst

 
 

Title: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts

Release Date: Out now

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story is really not that funny a story at all. Revolving around a suicidal 16-year-old named Craig (Gilchrist), who “accidentally” admits himself to a psychiatric unit looking for a quick fix to all his problems, the comedic element isn’t exactly obvious.

Upon arriving, Craig has a swift change of heart. He’s forced to stay for a five-day observation period on the adult ward, while the youth ward is under renovation. He meets an array of patients who are living clichés of their disturbing mental disorders and adopts a mentor figure in troubled father Bobby (Galifianakis). He simultaneously grows closer to a self-harming teen his own age, Noelle (Roberts).

While the film may have been trying to highlight teen suicide, it only seems to trivialise the issue. Gilchrist’s performance is a bit empty, resulting in his struggles seeming more like whiny, teen angst rather than the kind of issues that might justify being committed.

Where Gilchrist falls down however, Galifianakis shines. More subdued than the style we’ve come to expect from him, he brings a degree of credibility to his character. Gaining our empathy, he also contributes what humour there is to be found here, in his deadpan style. Without his character, I probably would have lost interest in the first ten minutes.

It’s a mostly inoffensive coming-of-age story, if you ignore the consistently gaping plot holes and the somewhat trite script. The freeze-frames and fantasy sequences range from a bit off-putting to downright cringeworthy. When we reach the cast’s performance of ‘Under Pressure’, the highlighting of each new day only served to make time crawl a little for the viewer. One thing they got very right was the soundtrack however, which features Broken Social Scene heavily and suits the tone of the film perfectly.

Despite the subject matter, it’s something of a feel-good film, making it difficult to hate. You’ll know the ending before you’ve walked in the door, and it’s not exactly groundbreaking. Nonetheless, it is cute, quirky and name-checks Vampire Weekend enough times to ensure we fully understand just how indie it is.

In A Nutshell: A bit bland. It’s kind of a good film.

– Aoife Valentine

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