May 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
Adapted and Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, based on the novel by Ned Vizzini
Starring Zach Galifianakis, Keir Gilchrist and Emma Roberts
From the makers of heavy hitters Half-Nelson and Sugar comes another coming of age tale and a first miss. Keir Gilchrist is miscast and wholly unbelievable as an overwhelmed teenager who gets himself admitted to a mental ward for a week of observation. The basis for the ignition of the story is not very believable because of a combination of his acting and the screenplay.
Essentially Gilchrist’s character “Craig” wants into a mental ward because he is sick of working hard and hates being a virgin. There’s plenty of narration (read: exposition) to explain this and justify the hospitalization, but I never believed in his character. The cast is filled with a who’s who of stand up comedians in dramatic roles with Galifianakis standing out among them. He’s charming and goofy without being stupid or banal. He is subtle and sweet, just what the role calls for. I believe his problems, I believe that he struggles to deal with the real world. For people who’s only exposure to him are The Hangover and Due Date, they should really see this before they pass judgement. Aasif Mandavi of the Daily Show has a nice scene as the admitting doctor and Jim Gaffigan is fine in a thankless role as Gilchrist’s father.
I am focusing on the acting because this is a story made up of characters and caricatures. We have seen it before. It’s essentially One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest for teenagers, so there is no need to recap the story very much or even care. It is ultimately about the acting and the acting is so-so. Emma Roberts is good but plays a typical female teenage outcast who is clearly beautiful but has self-esteem problems and needs the nerdy, nebbish boy with no confidence to tell her so. I didn’t like that choice. It seemed too easy and standard for this sub-genre.
All in all, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is Kind of a Dull Story that we have seen before. It’s topped off by a horribly miscast lead and good performances from a couple of people that deserved to be from a much better movie from a much better script.