What were your teen years like? Sleepovers, baseball and paper routes? For a startling many, the teen years are the exact opposite of that. But, when all that stress becomes too much to handle, what do you do?
Craig Gilner (played by Keir Gilchrist) is a sixteen year-old who’s contemplated suicide many times. One night, he dreams of riding his bike to the Brooklyn Bridge. In the dream, before he can jump, his mother (played by Lauren Graham), father (played by Jim Gaffigan) and little sister appear on the bridge. After a brief conversation, Craig loses his balance and falls to the water below. He wakes up after that and heads to the nearest emergency room. The admitting nurse, who was on the phone at the time of Craig’s arrival, hears him state that he intends to kill himself and simply hands him a clipboard with attached admitting forms. While sitting in the waiting area, a man in scrubs in a lab coat (played by Zach Galifianakis) strikes up a conversation and then leaves abruptly. When he is actually examined, his doctor (played by Aasif Mandvi) does not believe that Craig is a threat to himself but Craig is adamant and, as such, is admitted for evaluation. The part of the hospital usually reserved for mentally ill teens is undergoing renovations so Craig is placed with the adults. His roommate, a middle-aged Egyptian named Muqtada (played by Bernard White) rarely leaves his bed and has not left his room in weeks. The initial shock provokes feelings of “buyer’s remorse” in Craig but the hospital staff is not permitted to release him without evaluating him, which will take several days. In that time he becomes acquainted with other patients such as fellow teen, Noelle (played by Emma Roberts) and the man he encountered in the waiting room, Bobby (Galifianakis) who regularly leaves the ward, without permission, dressed in scrubs to avoid being escorted back.
I love this movie. Gilchrist masterfully portrays, in my opinion, a young adult grappling with issues that are far beyond his comprehension who is trying desperately to conceal that at the same time. Graham as the caring, over-emotional mother is someone we feel great sympathy for. Zach Galifianakis, for the first time in his acting career, scales back on the eccentricities we usually see in him and, surprisingly enough, shows talent as an actor. It seems odd that the least eccentric character that he’s ever portrayed would be a mental patient, but that doesn’t make it any less true. To sum up, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a near-brilliant film and I would advise anyone who found my review intriguing in the slightest to see it at their earliest possible convenience.