It’s Kind of a Funny Story is not a great film, but it is a nice film. Adapted from a novel inspired by the author’s brief stay in a psychiatric hospital (exactly like 1999’s Girl Interrupted) it tells the story of Craig (Canadian actor Keir Gilchrist), an average 16-year-old overburdened by the pressures of competing at a school for the gifted. He becomes suicidal and, somewhat accidentally, admits himself into a mental ward, where he meets a slew of interesting characters and attempts to move past his suicidal thoughts, stress vomiting and other psychiatric problems. Zach Galifianakis plays Bobby, an older patient who quickly becomes Craig’s mentor. It’s ironically one of the comedian’s least-crazy and most down-to-earth roles, but it isn’t too much of a departure from what fans are used to seeing. It’s far from original, but small touches make it enjoyable. The bizarre tics of the mental patients are played out with a solid comic timing that doesn’t take too much from the seriousness of being in a psychiatric ward. Craig is a believable and actually works to improve his outlook in a realistic way, something rare in a genre that often has too many self-pitying and unlikable characters. Galafianakis is hilarious, and one violent outburst and a couple of touching scenes with his character’s daughter show some real depth.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th, with a second screening on September 17