It's Kind of a Funny Story Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

It's Kind of a Funny Story Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Since it's coming from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the writing and directing team behind Half Nelson and Sugar, it's safe to assume that It's Kind of a Funny Story has some sort of veiled, political, anti-colonialist subtext. One need only watch the "Look Inside" supplement included with the DVD to confirm this, listening to them talk in monotone about their project with protracted syllables and deliberately clashing thrift store threads. This is why the opening scene of the film – a dream sequence ripe with symbolism – essentially spells out the forthcoming lessons with such lacklustre clumsiness. Depressed teenager Craig (Keir Gilchrist) stands on a beam far above a busy highway. His parents, Lynn (Lauren Graham) and George (Jim Gaffigan), stand to the side, concerned less with his impending suicide than the money they wasted on his new bike, which leads to his personal assessment of depression related to cultural expectations. So, there we have it: young Craig is struggling within the vacuum of cold, capitalist values and necessary assimilation. The rest of the film plays out pro forma, with him checked into a mental health clinic where he flirts with depressive young cutter Noelle (Emma Roberts) and learns valuable lessons about perspective from Bobby (Zach Galifianakis), who has "real" problems. Aside from the occasional gag about befriending trannies or drawing beavers in art class, each line of dialogue and sequence of events quietly insults and patronizes, with the notion of teen depression as self-indulgent, while glibly suggesting that art solves all worldly problems with unintended deus ex machina. Despite this and a number of clumsy stabs at mixed tonality, the entire cast commit to their respective cipher roles, making collective lemonade from lemons. Galifianakis shows surprising perception and depth as a man defeated by life's disappointments and social expectations, just as Gilchrist balances naivety and insecurity with mildly snotty superiority. They do make the film worth watching, even if the medicinal aftertaste leaves much to be desired. (Alliance)