When’s it out?

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday 6th June 2011.

Who’s in it?

Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, Rosalyn Coleman, Jeremy Davies.

What’s it about?

In the immediate aftermath of a failed suicide attempt, a depressed but externally upbeat teenager named Craig checks himself into a mental health clinic in downtown New York. After being told that his initial five-day stay is mandatory – a shock, as he was only seeking a few doses of medication – Craig is forced to reluctantly undergo treatment, and ends up bonding with a lengthy parade of loveable oddballs on the way.

What’s it like?

A coming-of-age tale with some hearty laughs, and some very, very light shades of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Star of the show?

Newcomer Keir Gilchrist is a likeable protagonist for sure, and the young actor doesn’t buckle under the weight of the plot’s most interesting dilemma, which centres around his own slow realisation that he’s prone to behaving like a bit of a self-absorbed twerp. But Zach Galifianakis – still best known for playing Alan the amiable weirdo in The Hangover and its sequel – brings real dramatic heft to his role as Bobby, a bi-polar and perpetually knackered eccentric who becomes something of a father figure to Gilchrist’s Craig.

Biggest surprise?

That it hangs together so well. The tone of the film – which is possibly intended to reflect the conflicted mental states of its lead characters – confidently veers all over the place, and this is usually a recipe for outright disaster. Although the approach doesn’t always work, the big emotional and comedic beats almost always hit their mark.

Best bit?

The broad range of the film’s ever-shifting tone (and the depth of Zach Galifianakis’ surprisingly effective performance) are both in rich abundance during the film’s very best scene; which takes place on a hospital basketball court. It ping-pongs effortlessly between comedy and drama, and cynical parties may observe that it looks to have been crafted purely for inclusion in those ‘For Your Consideration’ Oscar DVDs. It’s so affecting and smartly directed that it doesn’t matter.

Verdict

Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s previous two films – Half Nelson and Sugar – have both (rightly) been described as masterpieces, and the fact that this doesn’t live up to that exorbitant standard is no reason not to see it. Its tone may be a little bit uneven at times – and the DVD outtakes reveal that it could almost have ended up being a full-tilt knockabout comedy – but it is so thoroughly sweet-natured (and well paced) that it’s very difficult to actively dislike. It also has – standard practice for a Fleck/Boden film – a truly outstanding original soundtrack.

Hit or miss?

A hit, and a solid throwback to some of the underground, tragicomic US indies that were so popular in the early 1990’s.

Watch the trailer for It’s Kind of a Funny Story here:


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