“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”
It’s refreshing to see a lad play a troubled teen who actually
is a teenager. Keir
Gilchrist, a veteran television actor, plays Craig, who’s so depressed
that he checks himself into a psychiatric unit.
Except he doesn’t want them to tell his parents, and he
especially doesn’t want to miss any school, lest they find out where
he is and he’ll be “labeled” forever.
Of course, once he’s officially incarcerated, that’s exactly
what happens. They first
call his parents, who rush over all concerned and solicitous, but
strangely encouraging, as if his hints at suicidal feelings were far too
much for them to bear, and maybe these nice people can help you, dear.
Would you like for us to bring you a toothbrush and a change of
Craig’s best friend makes fun of him.
His little sister wants to know if she can have his room.
The girl he has a crush on has taken up with his best friend, and
now they both ignore him, and worse, once they find out, they tell all
their other friends. His
parents are putting lots of pressure on him to make certain grades that
would make him eligible for a certain scholarship so he can go to a
certain school, but Craig’s not certain he wants any of it.
He’s so bummed out that he can’t keep any food down, and
suffers from stress-induced projectile vomiting.
He doesn’t think he belongs in an insane asylum with all the
paranoid schizophrenics and the extreme agoraphobics who won’t leave
their bed, but he finds a strange comfort in meeting people who are
fully as dysfunctional as he is.
There are a couple of secondary performances that steal this
movie. Zach Galifianakis plays Bobby, a fellow “client” who seems
refreshingly candid, and relatively functional, until he isn’t.
plays the staff psychiatrist in such an empathetic and convincing way
that you want to call her office immediately and see if she has an
appointment available tomorrow.
For Craig, the breath of fresh air is Noelle (Emma Roberts), who
bears the scars of her own suicidal impulses, but she’s obviously
bright, and seems as eager to make a connection with him as he is to
flirt with her. We, of
course, root for them not only to find a way to be with each other, but
to find their way out of there, as well:
and not just the temporary escapes that Bobby leads to the upper
floors, a behavior so easily accomplished that we wonder if it isn’t
part of the therapy, as a test to see how badly the clients really do
want to leave.
There’s some wry humor here, but this is definitely not a
comedy. They aren’t
trying to make us laugh, they’re pointing out to us the debilitating
angst of being a teenager today (and our absurd expectations), but at
the same time presenting the idea to all of us that in the end, it’s
about deciding to embrace all your feelings, and own all your
experiences, and count as valuable both every success and every failure,
because they all compose the fabric of our very selves.
“It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” despite being about
depression, is more life-affirming than depressing, and successfully
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor,
Grace Presbyterian Church,