Craig (Gilchrist) is not happy. His best friend Aaron (Mann) goes out with Nia (Kravitz), the girl Craig has been obsessed with for two years, he has an application form to fill out for a summer school he doesn’t even want to go to and his Dad doesn’t understand him. It’s got to the point where the troubled teenager is not just fantasising about killing himself, he’s dreaming about it. A lot. But best by fears and, overridingly, guilt he checks himself into hospital in hope of quick fix. Instead, he’s admitted to a psychiatric ward for a minimum of five days.
Comedies about mental illness have to tread a fine line between keeping it light and making fun of people with genuine problems. The difficulty of course is that mental illness is open to comedic situations in a way that being sick that involves lying very still simply isn’t. But with no personal experience of mental illness it’s hard for me to judge whether the contents of such films are likely to be offensive or not. What I can judge is whether a) it’s funny and b) it works as a film.
On both counts directors Boden and Fleck score hits. The script is a joy, with dozens of chuckles throughout the five day period in which Craig (although why do Americans pronounce that as Creg, like Greg?) is in the ward. Craig likes to draw which also allows the directors a few animated flourishes to enliven the sterile environs in which all the action takes place. There are some other imaginative edits and touches as well as a hilarious fantasy song sequence which you’d have to be dead inside not to enjoy.
Youngster Keir Gilchrist plays his part intelligently and sensitively and shows excellent comic timing but all the big laughs go to The Hangover’s Galifianakis who seems born to play Bobby, the depressive long-time resident. He just has that casual manner that all natural comic actors have and lights up the screen. Emma Roberts is also good as Craig’s love interest Noelle and if anything she’s not in it enough. Still, this is Craig’s story and whether it’s a superficial look at depression or an analysis of whether not being happy for an extended period is actually depression or more a case of struggling to figure out what you want from life, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a positive and consistently amusing tale.
EXTRAS ★★★ There are five deleted scenes; a gag reel (11:28); the featurette A Look Inside It's Kind of a Funny Story (3:17); and footage from the film's New York premiere (2:32).