Movie Mom

Movie Mom


It’s Kind of a Funny Story

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic issues, sexual content, drug material and language
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Pharmaceuticals are used and abused, reference to LSD
Violence/Scariness:References to suicide attempts
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:October 8, 2010
DVD Release Date:February 15, 2011

A stressed-out teenager impetuously checks himself into a mental hospital in this semi-autobiographical tale based on It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. It is brought to screen by the talented writer-directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who have demonstrated their understanding of teenagers struggling with difficult situations in the understated “Sugar” and “Half Nelson.” Here, they show a more playful side, with witty and imaginative fantasy sequences that make the unabashed decency and kindness at its heart even more touching.

Keir Gilchrist plays Craig, a 16-year-old student at a Manhattan high school for high-achievers. He is feeling a great deal of pressure to succeed and frightened by thoughts of suicide. He visits the emergency room and when the doctor tells him he can go home, he pleads to be admitted, not understanding that it will mean he must be kept under observation for five days. “I thought you guys could do something quick,” he says. “I have school tomorrow.” Craig also does not realize that the area where the teenagers are treated is being renovated, so he will be staying on the adult ward.

Immediately dubbed “Cool Craig” by a friendly patient named Bobby (Zach Galifanakis of “The Hangover”), Craig discovers a through-the-looking-glass world that challenges the connections and assumptions of his “normal” life. The kind psychiatrist (Viola Davis) immediately recognizes that all Craig needs is some breathing room and reassurance. That gives Craig a chance to look around. He develops confidence when he sees many people far worse off than he is, and when he sees that he can give and accept help. Art and music therapy help him think of what he can express instead of how he will be evaluated. And a pretty fellow patient (Emma Roberts, with her aunt Julia’s lovely smile) is the best medicine of all.

Boden and Fleck, whose previous films had an understated naturalism, make the most of the heightened sensibility of the mental ward setting with sequences that take us inside Craig’s fantasies and memories. In one, we see Craig remembering an incident when he was five, drawing inside a tent in his parents’ living room. The present-day Craig is shown as a five year old, and then in his teen-age persona in the five-year-old’s pajamas. When pushed into being the vocalist in music therapy, Craig swings into a deliriously Bowie-fied version of “Under Pressure.” Boden and Fleck continue to show skill in casting and directing. Gilchrist, Roberts, and Zoe Kravitz as the classmate Craig wishes he could date are all first-rate, and Galifanakis leaves every bit of his stand-up persona behind to give a real performance with subtlety and grace.

It is a relief to see a movie about mental illness that recognizes the real pain but focuses on the real humanity of everyone involved, patients, staff, and Craig’s family. Craig first comes into the emergency room and tells the intake nurse that he wants to kill himself. When she hands him a clipboard and tells him to fill out a form it comes across not as callous but as reassuring. Treating his fear as routine is part of what makes him feel safe there. Boden and Fleck are now among the most reliable and promising film-makers around.

 

Parents should know that the film has some mature material about mental illness including discussion of suicide attempts and use and abuse of medication. Characters use strong and crude language, drink and use drugs, and there are some very unhappy family confrontations. There are sexual references and situations, some involving teenagers. The movie also includes instances of projectile vomiting and an automobile accident.

Topics for discussion: What is the meaning of Dr. Minerva’s name? What did drawing and singing mean to Craig?

If you like this try: “Manic” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Don Cheadle and “28 Days” with Sandra Bullock



  • http://www.dustinputman.com Dustin Putman

    Wonderful review, Nell. I couldn’t agree more. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. Gilchrist, Roberts and Galifianakis are all terrific in it.

Previous Posts

Dr. Martin Luther King's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
This week's release, "Selma," begins with the ceremony honoring The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is the real footage of his famous speech. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5r98tT0j1a0?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 12:00:34pm Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

A Child's Christmas in Wales
The whole family will enjoy this beautiful version of Dylan Thomas' classic memory about his family Christmases in Wales. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/GrLDaAG7j_o?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:23am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Pride
The ingredients for this film were so irresistible that it is a unexpected bonus to find that it is so much better than it needed to be. It's based on a true story of extraordinary kindness, generosity, and friendship and it stars a bunch of adorable English actors (Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy) w

posted 6:00:25am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Ava DuVernay of "Selma"
My favorite movie of the year is "Selma," the story of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, to bring attention to the barriers the

posted 9:41:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: A Boy and a Penguin
This reminds me a little of the depiction of a child's world in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and Barnaby. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860[/youtube] Many thanks to Slate for this and the others on its list of the year's best ads.

posted 12:06:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.