The nuances of life become ritual and in adulthood, the experiences of the past are forgotten. This is what makes the coming of age story an attractive tome. In watching the uncomfortable maturation of the teen, or a child, the reality of being an adult is challenged. Often the reading of a book that deals with the struggles of an adult and their social issues can make the reader jaded and unforgiving. Adults no longer reach, struggle, or learn; they simply live. In their lives the mundane existence of routine becomes so monotonous that the adult no longer believes in the power of the mind. They no longer trust that a thought can influence the world. Inspiration can only be found in religion or financial success. In the teen self awareness, realization, is important and makes their lives a lot more complicated than they seem.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story has made the list of my favorite films. I sometimes think about the things that mother misses because she is no longer here. I wrote a poem titled, You Would Have Loved Ray. That poem forced me to analyze my mortality. This film, based on a novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini, shows the five day journey of Craig. Craig is a sixteen year old living in New York City. The standard items of youth are in place and could be seen as nothing more than pawns in the manipulation of the viewer: the cool best friend, his hot girlfriend (who Craig is attracted to), parents, and a sibling. What makes this film work though is that they are immediately removed from the equation by the director’s focus on Craig’s eventually admitted selfishness after he checks into a mental institution after considering suicide.
The interesting thing that occurs in the film is that Craig’s parents are not traditional. They actually care, and his sibling does love him. His friends like him, yet he is still caught in that area where being a teen becomes the most difficult time of a person’s life. There are other stock characters, but they are played so convincingly that the narrative becomes a believable mix of a fiction and reality with situations that occur that seem to be a little fantastic, but through casting, superb casting, the story rings with honesty.
Craig is played by Keir Gilchrist and the antagonist should be seen as The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakas, named Bobby in this film. However, the antagonist becomes Craig’s recognition which creates his catharsis, and the viewers. Galifianakas is exactly what comedic character should be. His character is similar to Jack Nicholson’s in Cuckoo’s Nest. In the same manner that Zach delivers performances that are funny in other films, he captures the comedic tension and delivers a character that is uncomfortably funny in sad and unfortunate situations.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story has a heart and is a film that portrays the transition towards independence as the awkward development of relationships: Boy and Girl, Parent and Child, Patient and Doctor, Friends. While many stories make mental institutions ‘foreboding’ places of sickness, the mental institution here uses a careful cast of characters to create a funny story; one that should be shown to every family in America. Sorry about not giving away too much of the story here, but you really need to watch this.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, released in 2010