It's Kind Of a Funny Story

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This is something of a saccharine sucker punch from the acclaimed writer-director team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck whose career so far has consisted of two films of immense grit and integrity: 2006’s ‘Half Nelson’ and 2008’s ‘Sugar’. Adapted from a novel by Ned Vizinni, ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ marks the first time the pair have not worked from their own material, and the lack of an authentic connection to the characters and story is palpable.

Set over a single week in a surprisingly charming, clean and hospitable New York psychiatric ward, the film monitors the mildly volatile mental health of preppy weed Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) as he trades indie-lyric platitudes with shouty nutbag Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and nervously woos self-harmer Noelle (Emma Roberts). It’s a light comedy of teen dysfunction that soft-peddles complex insight in favour of breezy sentiment, simple plotting and musical interludes.

There are a few traces of old Boden/Fleck to saviour, such as the dreamy Broken Social Scene soundtrack and the pleasingly laid-back performances from the cast. But this feels like a more anonymous work, one for which the pair have opted to test out the neat new toys their inflated budget has afforded them at the expense of developing a visual style that feels fitting to this story and its concerns. The only real surprise is the casting of gangly oddball Jeremy Davies as one of the ward overseers and not one of the loonies. A pleasant movie, but no more.

By: David Jenkins

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