- Running time:
- 100 minutes
- Keir Gilchrist -
- Zach Galifianakis -
- Emma Roberts -
- Viola Davis -
- Dr. Eden Minerva
- Lauren Graham -
Overwhelmed 16-year-old Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) resolves to throw himself off the Brooklyn Bridge, but changes his mind and checks into a psychiatric hospital instead. Although he immediately regrets the decision, he’s required to stay one week. During the time he bonds with older patient Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and fellow teen Noelle (Emma Roberts), a welcome distraction from his unresolved crush on classmate Nia (Zoe Kravitz).
The buzz: Intentionally reminiscent of John Hughes’ sweet, sensitive teen comedies, “Funny Story” seems like an unusual departure for indie filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. They’re known, at least within select film circles, for grittier, more neo-realist dramas “Sugar” and “Half Nelson.” Taking a more accessible approach to adapting Ned Vizzini’s young adult novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” looks like an attempt to break through to a broader audience. Or, in more cynical eyes, an attempt to sell out.
The verdict: Not quite as winning as recent teen comedy hit “Easy A,” “Funny Story” is still uncommonly brainy, fun and compassionate for the teen genre. It’s also a welcome change of pace for Boden and Fleck, who bring empathy and respect to admittedly slight and somewhat schematic material. The film’s feel good lessons about learning to step back and appreciate life aren’t exactly fresh, but they’re developed with enough detail and care to resonate. The filmmakers said they were looking for an actor somewhere between Matthew Broderick and Anthony Michael Hall to carry the movie and Gilchrist (the son on “United States of Tara”) fits the bill. Craig is one of those teens who falls through the cracks of social circles, feeling like life has passed him by when it hasn’t even begun. Gilchrist gives him a natural, self-deprecating charm that’s easy to root for. But it’s Galifinakis who steals the movie with an understated and perfectly rendered mix of humor and despair. Bobby’s had a longer, harder life than Craig, but they’re able to help each other in small, important ways. It’s their odd couple bond that gives “Funny Story” believable heart and soul.
Did you know? Vizzini based the novel on his own experiences in a psychiatric hospital when he was in his 20s and dealing with the pressure of writing a follow-up to his first novel, “Be More Chill.”
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