Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Kind of a Good Movie

Whenever a comic actor tries to stretch and takes on a more dramatic role, it's a dicey proposition. For every The Truman Show or Greenberg, for example, there's another example of a less convincing performance. So what a relief that in the new movie It's Kind of a Funny Story, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) is actually good at walking that fine line between sad and clown. In the film, Galifianakis plays Bobby, a patient in the psychiatric wing of a hospital, who takes a younger patient under his wing. That younger patient, 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist), has checked himself in because he's feeling stressed out and suicidal, and needs to sort some things out.

It's Kind of a Funny Story was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (best known for Half Nelson), and despite the plot synopsis I gave above, it's actually a sweet, teen-oriented drama. Boden and Fleck's screenplay (based on the novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini) has some black humor mixed in with the drama, and it never once is a downer. There is, of course, a girl on the inside — Noelle (Emma Roberts) — but the romance between her and Craig is predictable and not very well developed. Still, this is a very easy-to-watch and enjoyable film, and as noted, Galifianakis demonstrates decent (albeit limited) range. If you're going to be stuck in the mental ward for a week, he's the kind of guy you want to have around. I'm giving It's Kind of a Funny Story a B.



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