It's Kind Of A Funny Story
Hollywood loves to romanticize insanity. Witness "It's Kind Of A Funny Story." This charming tale takes place in the psych ward of a major American facility, a segment of the health care system more known for its screamed obscenities and thrown feces than its grace and well-adjusted occupants.
"It's Kind Of A Funny Story," however, is seemingly situated in the kind of mental hospital where crazy actually means quirky, and where people who try to kill themselves really just need the chance to play fucking ping pong and figure some shit out. And I don't mean literal shit – no one eats their own excrement or draws on the wall using Crayola Brown #2 in this movie. No, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck decided to give us a kinder, gentler insanity, the one where no one ever actually undergoes any kind of real therapy but instead experiences profound life changes over the space of a few days while surrounded by total nut jobs.
If there is one person to blame for this sorry state of affairs, I take the heat off of Boden and Fleck and place it squarely on the shoulders of Zach Galifianakis. A comedian known for his oddball humor and manic outbursts, Galifianakis treads the scary path laid out by Robin Williams when it comes to destroying your funny on film. Not only does he adopt the role of a sort of suicidal Svengali for our protagonist Keir Gilchrist's angsty 16-year-old, but he does so in a medical setting. 15 minutes into the movie I was having Patch Adams crossed with Dead Poets Society flashbacks that were so intense I actually had to leave the theatre and breath into a brown paper bag until I stopped hyperventilating.
When I returned to that darkened chamber, the situation had not improved. A sweaty Zach was playing basketball with his teenage accomplice, the main character was falling head over heels for a skinny emo bitch with a sliced-up face (yes – it's even hotter than you are imagining) and then groping Lenny Kravitz's daughter before his actually depressed roommate "accidentally" shits on the floor. OK, so I lied about the lack of shit in this movie, but honestly, it's onscreen for like a second, which was just long enough to make me feel guilty about my erection.
Bottom line: movies about mental illness all suck. They are either so graphic as to make you sign a DNR within an hour after seeing the flick, or so chock-full of sappy sweetness that you just want to slide a stop stick under the wheels of the local short bus the next morning on the way to work. You can't have a happy middle ground when it comes to crazy, and you know why? Because there is no bright side to being nuts. No one likes you, you are doomed to working the hottest and noisiest of jobs, and if they ever make a movie about you it will star either Galifianakis or Sean Penn – both of whom would cross the street to avoid making eye contact with you in real life.
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