Craig (Keir Gilchrist, SHOtime's "United States of Tara") thinks his friends look at him like he's crazy. He's also obsessed with his best friend's girl and dreams of committing suicide by riding his bike out to a bridge to jump and having his family show up only to be concerned about the safety of his wheels. The teenager makes the unusual decision of checking himself into a psychiatric facility, but by the time he's changed his mind, Dr. Minerva (Viola Davis, "Doubt") informs him he must spend at least five days there in "It's Kind of a Funny Story."
Cowriter/directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck ("Half Nelson," "Sugar") take their first stab at comedy and miss the mark. They're not helped by star Gilchrist, whose deadpan dullness drains energy from their film and their cast of kooky supporting players are like "Cuckoo's Nest" lite. Still, it's some of those players that provide any entertainment value to be found here as profundity is certainly not on offer.
The first person Craig meets in the waiting room is Bobby (Zach Galifianakis, "The Hangover"), a man who appears to be a doctor, but whom Craig will learn is an adult psych patient with a knack for escape. And Craig is alarmed to learn it is Adult Psychiatric that he will be admitted to, the teen ward currently closed. Behavior all around him is alarming and his roommate, Muqtada (Bernard White, "American Dreamz," "Quarantine"), refuses to talk or get out of bed. Bobby, a man undone by the responsibilities of adulthood, pals with Johnny (Adrian Martinez, "Cop Out"), an odd-looking self-professed lady killer, and Humble (Matthew Maher, "The Killer Inside Me"), undoubtedly cast as a "Nest's" Michael Berryman-type. Bobby takes Craig under his wing and things begin to look up a bit when Craig's talent in arts and crafts is noted by the lovely Noelle (Emma Roberts, "Hotel for Dogs"). The blossoming relationship will be given a hiccup when Nia (Zoë Kravitz, "The Brave One," "The Greatest"), Craig's long time crush, shows up for an aggressive visit. This, along with Craig's ploy to get Muqtada up and out, are pretty obvious screenplay obstacles for its hero to overcome.
Galifianakis shows some stretch with his darker portrayal of a damaged manchild, but the material he's working with is only intermittently funny. Still, the type of person he creates - left behind in a speeding world - is identifiable. The most weirdly entertaining turn comes from "Old Joy's" Daniel London, whose Hasidic acid-head is disturbed by any noise above a hush. Jeremy Davies ("Rescue Dawn," TV's 'Lost') is ward assistant Smitty, a cool cat in a hip hat who at first seems more like a patient than employee, for no discernable reason. Emma Roberts is merely OK as Craig's love interest, as obtaining a spark from Gilchrist's damp rag would be nigh on impossible. As Craig's parents, Lauren Graham (TV's "Parenthood") is maternally perky and supportive and Jim Gaffigan ("Going the Distance") is stand back dadlike.
Boden & Fleck try to liven things up with a fantasy rock band interlude (spun off from Craig's solo group therapy rendition of "Under Pressure"), an animated sequence based on his artworks and a few forays outside the ward with Bobby, and they do pick up the pace, at least for a while. But the film isn't original, the star is flat, and, perhaps most damaging of all, we never really get the sense that Craig's problems are anything other than a normal teen's.
Robin did not see this film.
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