Recently, I went to a preview screening of the film, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, held by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts or BAFTA. My friend, Pat Connolly, is a member and on one of their committees and he was able to get me a ticket.
The film was based on the novel by Ned Vizzini and brought to the big screen by writing-directing team, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. (Bowden and Fleck are most known for their films: Gowanus, Brookyn, Half Nelson and Sugar.
It’s Kind Of A Funny Story follows a weekend in a high school senior’s life as he checks himself into a mental hospital to help with battles of depression and suicide. There he is treated for his depression and learns about life and love from the other patients, all of whom vary in age, class and race. It seems everyone is equal in a mental health facility.
The film stars Keir Gilchrist as Craig, a young high school senior plagued with anxiety and doubt regarding his future. He considers suicide and finally checks himself into a local mental hospital to help sort out his issues. There he meets Bobby, played by Zach Galifianakis, a brilliant guy suffering from mental health issues. He also meets Noelle, played by Emma Roberts, another teenager.
Other appearances are Zoe Kravitz, a budding talent and the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. She plays Nia, Craig’s best friend’s girlfriend and his secret crush. The cast overall was pretty diverse and there was even a small part for Lou Myers, whom I remembered for his role as the cafeteria manager in A Different World.
What I enjoyed most about this movie is its honesty regarding the portrayal of life as a teenager and also as a student of a competitive, specialized high school. As a former student of a specialized high school, I could relate to Craig’s issues and feelings of isolation and the intense level of competition.
While I learned a lot and was challenged academically, I found that the environment was not as supportive as my previous schools. (My junior high school for instance, was a small magnet school where everyone knew everybody by first name including our teachers.)
I had always been an honor student, but I found that when I began to have trouble academically, I was not able to receive the help I needed which in turn made me feel isolated and depressed. While I had made many friends and had some great teachers, I transferred out for my senior year. Ultimately, I graduated from a smaller high school where I received the support and education that I needed, including the opportunity to take college courses at a campus in the city.
Watching the film reminded me of some of the feelings and issues that I had as a teenager in high school, without the suicide attempts and excursions in a mental facility. Ned Vizzini, the author of the original novel, is a graduate of StuyvesantHigh School, which explains why he was able to hit the nail on the head.
The ending was also positive and I appreciated that. I think it was a good movie for teenagers who might be suffering in high school now and for those of us who have already weathered that storm. I also appreciated that they dealt with a very touchy situation tactfully, with grace and while providing some comedic relief.
After the screening, my friend Pat Connolly hosted a Q&A with Zach Galifianakis, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. (Pretty cool.) We asked questions that I was sure they had answered one million times before during their press junket for the film. Someone even asked Zach G. about his beard and if he was ever going to get rid of it. (He pretended to be irate and insulted by the question, but laughed it off and said he didn’t plan to get rid of it anytime soon.)
I give the film, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, a score of A-. I think you all should check it out.
It's Kind Of A Funny Story
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Writers: Ned Vizzini (Book), Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Zoe Kravitz, Viola Davis, and Lou Myers