So I just moved to Southern California, and boy are my arms tired!
Wait, that's no good. I'm just trying to say there's a perfectly mundane reason for my recent absence, and not, as the rumors would have it, because I've been recruited by a top-secret government "X" program to bring down the godawful Transformers franchise from the inside. I mean, how gullible can you guys be? That task was already executed by Megan Fox. Zap.
Nah, nothing that exciting for me. I had at least hoped my triumphant return--two weeks in the making!--would present me with a movie of either transcendent greatness or unplumbable crummitude. I got neither: the fairly good It's Kind of a Funny Story .
Keir Gilchrist is only 16, but he's got a lot of stress in his life--to the point where he's considering suicide. Before things can get that far, he checks himself into a psych ward.
There, fellow patient Zach Galifianakis shows him the ropes. As Gilchrist grapples with his problems, he meets fellow teen Emma Roberts, and starts to understand his issues may not be as impossible as they once felt.
I should probably throw something in there about car crashes and unicorns, because that does not sound very dramatic. That recap sounds about as exciting as me telling you how it's kind of annoying that Californians don't use their turn signals very often and so you can't swerve around them to save half a second because all you can do is hit the brakes instead. That's not a very exciting insight. Unless you're a "my God let's ticket them all right now" West Richland cop, who I can now totally tell to go to hell, because I'll never see you again. Thanks for the years or paranoia.
Anyway, It's Kind of a Funny Story isn't much of an "even the explosions have smaller explosions" movie. Instead, writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck give their semi-comedy a grounded tone that largely avoids the loony bin cliches of men in Napoleon hats shouting about how the government's controlling them through the monsters in Scooby-Doo.
Not that it completely avoids the trap of cutesy madness. Several characters are one-note comic relief types defined entirely by their mental illness, and Galifianakis is the only one who feels fully developed (though Gilchrist comes close; I'm sure he'll be snapping up Michael Cera's rejected parts in no time).
Galifianakis is all over the place after busting out in The Hangover, and I'm sure us cool kids will have to start burning him in effigy any day now. In the meantime, his performance in Funny Story is pretty great. He isn't reduced to a walking tangle of symptoms or quirks, yet he's clearly dysfunctional; he's funny without going broad or unbelievable.
He adds a lot to a movie that loses some laughs as it brings its low-key drama to a head in the third act. Also, have you heard of this whole "boy meets girl" thing? Apparently, it's a fresh new storytelling convention where a boy meets a girl, loses the girl, and then wins her back. It's Kind of a Funny Story has one of these. It's OK.
"OK" is about the worst you can say about this movie, though. It's funny, well-cast, and at least its weak points are inoffensively so. Boden and Fleck have shown themselves capable of more, but it's good to know that even when they're not at the top of their game, they're still pretty good.