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 perfectlymundane reason for my recent absence, and not, as the rumors wouldhave it, because I've been recruited by a top-secret government "X"program to bring down the godawful Transformers franchise fromthe inside. I mean, how gullible can you guys be? That task wasalready executed by Megan Fox. Zap.
Nah, nothing that exciting for me. I had at least hoped my triumphantreturn--two weeks in the making!--would present me with a movie ofeither transcendent greatness or unplumbable crummitude. I gotneither: the fairly good It's Kind of a Funny Story.
Keir Gilchrist is only 16, but he's got a lot of stress in hislife--to the point where he's considering suicide. Before things canget that far, he checks himself into a psych ward.
There, fellow patient Zach Galifianakis shows him the ropes. AsGilchrist grapples with his problems, he meets fellow teen EmmaRoberts, and starts to understand his issues may not be as impossibleas they once felt.
I should probably throw something in there about car crashes andunicorns, because that does not sound very dramatic. That recap soundsabout as exciting as me telling you how it's kind of annoying thatCalifornians don't use their turn signals very often and so you can'tswerve around them to save half a second because all you can do is hitthe brakes instead. That's not a very exciting insight. Unless you'rea "my God let's ticket them all right now" West Richland cop, who Ican 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 theexplosions have smaller explosions" movie. Instead, writer/directorsAnna Boden and Ryan Fleck give their semi-comedy a grounded tone thatlargely avoids the loony bin cliches of men in Napoleon hats shoutingabout how the government's controlling them through the monsters inScooby-Doo.
Not that it completely avoids the trap of cutesy madness. Severalcharacters are one-note comic relief types defined entirely by theirmental illness, and Galifianakis is the only one who feels fullydeveloped (though Gilchrist comes close; I'm sure he'll be snapping upMichael Cera's rejected parts in no time).
Galifianakis is all over the place after busting out in TheHangover, and I'm sure us cool kids will have to start burning himin effigy any day now. In the meantime, his performance in FunnyStory is pretty great. He isn't reduced to a walking tangle ofsymptoms or quirks, yet he's clearly dysfunctional; he's funny withoutgoing broad or unbelievable.
He adds a lot to a movie that loses some laughs as it brings itslow-key drama to a head in the third act. Also, have you heard of thiswhole "boy meets girl" thing? Apparently, it's a fresh newstorytelling convention where a boy meets a girl, loses thegirl, 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'sfunny, well-cast, and at least its weak points are inoffensively so.Boden and Fleck have shown themselves capable of more, but it's goodto know that even when they're not at the top of their game, they'restill pretty good.