Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Movie Review: It's Kind of a Funny Movie... and Kind of a Sad One Too

It's Kind of a Funny Story movie poster, property of Focus Features.
It's Kind of a Funny Story ADMIRABLE

I was scheduled for an on-call shift yesterday, and when I called the store at noon I was elated to find out that I wasn't going to be needed.  Sure I could always use more hours and more money, but whenever I'm given the possibility of not working my lazy side always secretly hopes that I can have the day off.  Besides, Brian wasn't working yesterday so why should I?

So after eating a quick lunch of chili cheese dogs, we drove to the theater to catch a free flick.  I wasn't too picky about what we were going to see.  We've gotten a little behind in our movie watching, and there are four or five movies we still haven't seen.  Basically, the choice came down to which movie was starting the soonest.  It's Kind of a Funny Story turned out to be the winner.

And in my opinion, the movie itself was a winner too.  Perhaps years from now it will be mostly forgotten -- I'm not saying that it's some sort of instant movie classic -- but as far as my Tuesday afternoon was concerned, I was thoroughly engaged in this quirky, bitter-sweet dramedy. 

Unfortunately, it turns out that not everybody likes this movie.  In fact, it's not even in the top ten at the box office so it looks like nobody is even seeing it.  The online movie review site Rotten Tomatoes has it rated as a rotten 58%.  I mean, it's not as dismally reviewed as My Soul to Take or You Again, but I definitely think it's got more positive going for it than bad.

The movie is about a sixteen-year-old kid named Craig (Keir Gilchrist) trying to commit suicide, but instead voluntarily checking himself into a psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital in New York City.  He thinks that they'll just give him some meds, motivating words, and a pat on the back.  He couldn't be more wrong.  He has unknowingly had himself committed... for at least five days.

While there, he meets many crazy characters with various mental illnesses, and although they are mostly used for comedy, it's done in a warm-hearted way.  For the most part, the people in the hospital are treated with respect from the filmmakers.  We see them as real people.  The most important resident that he meets is Bobby (Zack Galifianakis) who becomes a sort of mentor to Craig.  He shows him the ropes, helps him talk to the other teen Noelle (Emma Roberts), and ultimately helps him to realize that his life isn't that bad.

I'll admit that there were a few scenes that weren't spectacularly written or played out, but for the most part, the movie had a great feel to it.  If you're expecting a laugh-out-loud comedy, you're going to be disappointed.  Although there are quite a lot of funny moments, mostly the humor is found in the ordinary.  Zack Galifianakis, who has become popular of late as a funny guy, surprised me with his more serious moments in this film.  The character he plays is a troubled man, fighting a very real illness and suffering very real consequences in his life.  There's nothing funny about a man with no will to live, with the possibility of homelessness hovering over him all the time.  Yet somehow, he's endearing and full of humor.  I think it's that balancing act that made me enjoy It's Kind of a Funny Story.  It's kind of a funny movie... and kind of a sad one too.

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