Toronto Review: Boden and Fleck's 'It's Kind of a Funny Story'
by Alex Billington
September 11, 2010
Filmmaker duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck first found success in 2006 with the indie Half Nelson, but didn't really hit it out of the park with Sugar in 2008 (I thought it was just okay). They're back again with their third feature film, another fun, quirky drama called It's Kind of a Funny Story, adapted from Ned Vizzini's novel of the same name that's based on his own real experiences. The film stars Keir Gilchrist as a 16-year-old suicidal kid who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward in hopes of curing himself, but eventually discovers to appreciate life and live stress free after spending a week with the rest of the patients.
There's a certain feeling that Boden and Fleck's films have, and it's the same with this. It's Kind of a Funny Story isn't really a full-on comedy, but rather a drama with comedic moments. Their films are light-hearted with easy flowing dialogue, but my problem is that they're sometimes missing the "magic" of indie cinema that really makes other flicks stand out. It's hard to explain exactly what that is, but I was hoping to see It's Kind of a Funny Story take this story and craft a film that had that feeling that it there was something more to it, some great message. It tried very hard to achieve that, but I think just barely missed it. And although there's plenty to enjoy, it's not a film that stands out above other indie dramedies that it'll be compared to.
Zach Galifianakis plays a patient whose character never really gets to develop like it should, Emma Roberts plays yet another patient and does an impressive job adding some heart to the film, although she was vastly underutilized. It's Kind of a Funny Story feels like a film that will play well with certain (younger) crowds, but terribly with disinterested (older) audiences. It doesn't ever step up to become anything truly wonderful, but it is entertaining at times, and it does have a good story at its core. I enjoyed it, maybe more than others, but that's because I found Keir Gilchrist to be a solid performer, and it's his story that is the most important.
Alex's Toronto Rating: 7.5 out of 10