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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”

(Focus Features.  Rated PG-13.  1 hour, 41 minutes.  Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.)  Keir Gilchrist (Craig), Emma Roberts (Noelle), Viola Davis (Dr. Eden Minerva), Lauren Graham (Lynn), Jim Gaffigan (George), Zoe Kravitz (Nia), Zach Galifianakis (Bobby).  Music by Broken Social Scene.

Many 16-year-old boys feel the pressures of being a teenager.  Few of them decide to secretly check into a youth mental ward, find it’s under renovation, and end up with the adult crazies.  So begins Funny Story, which in the psycho-ward genre, hews neither to the dramatic (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) nor slapstick (Crazy People).  It pretty much sails right down the middle:  pleasant, but not particularly challenging.

The characters you expect are all there:  Craig’s new buddy (Galifianakis, on the brink of overexposure), high school crush (Kravitz), clueless parents (Graham and Gaffigan), potential new love interest (Roberts), and so on.  The performances are fine but could have benefited from a sharper script.  This is the third feature for Fleck and Boden, the writing/directing team who brought us the more insightful but little-seen Half Nelson in 2006 (Ryan Gosling as a junior-high-school teacher with a drug habit).  I get the feeling they went more “Hollywood” (read: safer) this time around.