I watched It’s Kind of a Funny Story on the plane on the way over to NYC. It came out in late 2010 in the US but somehow passed me by as I didn’t notice it hitting our screens. The movie, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini, stars Keir Gilchrist as a depressed teenager named Craig who checks himself into a psychiatric ward fearing that he might commit suicide. On meeting the other patients Craig immediately thinks that he has made a mistake, he’s definitely not as screwed up as they are, but he’s told that he must stay for the mandatory five days for evaluation before he can be released.
To be honest as a sufferer of clinical depression myself I personally thought that all Craig needed was a stern talking-to followed by a swift kick up the ass. He is a self-indulgent privileged teenager and I found it hard to feel sympathy or empathy for him, or in fact to even like him as a character. The movie is made watchable by the performances of Emma Roberts, who plays a self-harming teenager (the reasons for her illness are never made clear) and Zach Galifianakis, who plays a depressed father who has tried to commit suicide six times (again the reasons for this are never made clear).
Ultimately this feels like a superficial look at mental illness. The patients within the ward are all one dimensional stereotypes and the story never really gets under the skin of any of the characters. Craig makes a miraculous journey of self-discovery and revelation all in the space of five days which feels both trite and a total copout on the writers’ part.
The movie was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the duo behind the brilliant Half Nelson starring Ryan Gosling. This was a very disappointing follow-up. It’s not kind of a funny story, it’s just kind of mediocre.